February 24, 2020 09:56
The city of Daegu is in virtual lockdown as coronavirus infections soared over the weekend. The government here raised a red alert on Sunday for the first time since the bird flu outbreak in 2009 that killed 263 people.
Even until Friday, the government had said the coronavirus outbreak in Korea was "in its initial stage" but it raised the alarm when the number of confirmed infections soared by more than 500 over the weekend. The red alert gives the government authority to close down schools, ban large gatherings, slash flights and limit public transportation.
President Moon Jae-in in an emergency meeting vowed to "drastically strengthen response measures based on the recommendations of experts." He added that the next few days would be the "peak" when test results of many potential patients will come out.
Health and Welfare Minister Park Neung-hoo ordered residents in Daegu, which has become a hotbed of new infections, to stay indoors for the next few weeks and avoid weddings, funerals and other gatherings in enclosed spaces.
According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 763 confirmed infections as of Monday morning. Seven patients have now died of COVID-19 while 18 have been released after making a full recovery.
Infections have now spread across the whole country, but new infections were concentrated in Daegu among the Shincheonji religious sect with 458 and Daenam Hospital in nearby Cheongdo with 112.
As of 5 p.m. on Sunday, 8,057 people were being tested, raising fears of more confirmed cases. In Gimpo next to Seoul, a 16-month-old infant tested positive after visiting a wedding in Daegu, becoming the youngest patient.
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