Daily US Times, Seoul: South Korea stepped up several measures to curb the spread of deadly coronavirus, as confirmed infections rose sharply for a second day. Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun described the situation as ’emergency’.
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.
The country reported 52 confirmed cases on Friday, while Thursday reported 53, making the total numbers to 156. South Korea now is the largest cluster of coronavirus patients outside mainland China and the cruise ship docked off Japan.
Earlier this week, authorities reported the first death from the virus in Cheongdo. The man was a long time patient at a mental health facility and alongside him, another 14 people also have tested positive for the virus.
The new virus was originated in China’s Hubei province last year, causes a respiratory disease called Covid-19.
What measures are being taken?
From the 52 new cases confirmed on Friday, 41 are in Daegu, and 39 of those are from a cluster involving a religious sect.
Reacting to the quickly deteriorating situation, the government promised serious measures to prevent further spread of coronavirus.
The Prime Minister 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.