Daily US Times, Seoul: South Korea faces serious situations as the number of new coronavirus cases in the country has more than doubled in one day.
At least 229 new cases had been confirmed since Friday, making the total number to 433.
The country’s Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said the outbreak had entered “a serious new phase”.
Like the previous two days, many of the new cases are linked to a hospital and to a religious group near the south-eastern city of Daegu, authorities have said.
So far, two patients have died and there are fears the number will rise.
The country’s southern cities of Cheongdo and Daegu have been declared “special care zones”. The streets of Daegu are now largely abandoned.
South Korea also locked down its military after several soldiers tested positive for coronavirus. Authorities also asked a religious group of 9,000 members to self-quarantine, after the sect was identified as a coronavirus hotbed.
South Korea now is the largest cluster of coronavirus patients outside mainland China and the cruise ship docked off Japan.
The virus was originated from a seafood market in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The virus killed 2,345 people, mostly in China and nearly 80 thousand people have been infected by the virus.
Chinese authorities reported a decrease in the rate of deaths and new cases of the coronavirus on Saturday.
Yesterday, the government promised serious measures to prevent further spread of coronavirus.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told reporters “It is urgent to find people who have contacted infected people and cure patients.”
He also warned that the virus is now spreading locally and said the government was readying resources like sickbeds, medical equipment, and health workers.
“The government has so far focused on curbing infections coming from outside the country. From now on, the government will further prioritize preventing the virus from spreading locally.”
Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said authorities would allow hospitals to isolate respiratory patients from others in an effort to prevent any spread within medical institutions.
In a statement, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said that of the 229 new cases, 95 were related to Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo. There are now 114 confirmed cases at the hospital – nine staff and 102 patients – it added.