South Korea faced its largest rise in coronavirus cases

South Korea faced its largest rise in coronavirus cases
South Korean medical workers wearing protective gear carry samples as they visit the residence of people with suspected symptoms of the coronavirus. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times, Seoul: South Korea has reported 594 new cases confirmed on Friday, making it the largest rise in coronavirus infections in a single day.

The country now has 2,931 cases in total with seventeen people died so far, according to the Korea Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

South Korea now contains the highest number of confirmed cases outside China where the outbreak started.

Meanwhile, in the US states of Oregon and California, there has been concern over a number of new cases of unknown origin.

What is happening in South Korea?

Most of the cases reported in the country were in Daegu, the city in the southeast of the country which has been at the center of the country’s outbreak.

The coronavirus spread in the country is linked to the fringe Christian group Shincheonji Church, seen by some as a sect. Authorities believed members of the sect infected one another during services in Daegu and then fanned out around the country, apparently undetected.

A 61-year-old member of the sect, who tested positive last week was among the first to be infected and is now at the center of their investigation.

The female patient initially refused to be transferred to a hospital to be tested. She is believed to have attended several church gatherings before testing positive.

Health officials say any large gatherings she would have attended would likely led to further infections. The church says it is being targeted for unfair criticism and complained of a witch-hunt.

Neighboring North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has warned of “serious consequences” if his officials fail to prevent an outbreak in the country.

Why the new US cases create tensions?

California authorities have confirmed the second case in the US of a person who tested positive for the virus, but does not have recent travel history or having had to contact with a known case.

The patient has not been identified but described as an adult woman with chronic health issues.

Shortly afterward, health officials in the state of Oregon reported a same case there. The US officials described the two cases as community-transmitted cases.

World Health Organization (WHO) data shows there have been 59 confirmed cases in the US so far. On Friday, WHO upgraded the global risk of the outbreak to its highest level.

A whistleblower from the Department of Health and Human Services has alleged that the US has sent a dozen government workers to assist Americans who came back from the Chinese city of Wuhan, without giving them proper training or protective gear.

But US health chief Alex Azar has denied the allegations.

The US has delayed a special summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), which was due to take place in March in Las Vegas.

The UN body said there was still a chance of containing the virus if its chain of transmission was broken while WHO chief stressed that fear and misinformation were the biggest challenges to overcome.

Latest updates

More than 50 countries have now reported cases of coronavirus. There are nearly 84 thousand cases confirmed globally, most of them in mainland China where 78,961 people have been infected and 2,791 have died.

The UK has confirmed the first death case- a passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan.

Amid the rising concerns of the fate of Tokyo Olympics 2020, A senior official for the Olympics said on Friday that Tokyo has no Plan B for this year’s Summer Olympics despite alarm over the spread of the coronavirus in Japan and elsewhere with under five months before the event.

The deputy director-general of the Tokyo 2020 Preparation Bureau, Katsura Enyo said there will not be one bit of change in holding the Games as planned.