This article has been updated to include the latest information.
South Korea on Sunday reported 169 new cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and three new deaths, bringing the total death toll to six.
The outbreak has grown worse for South Korea this weekend.
The sixth death was a 59-year-old man who was confirmed to be infected on Wednesday and began receiving treatment, according to local media outlet Yonhap News Agency.
Late Sunday afternoon, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) announced 46 new cases of the virus and the country’s fifth death. Earlier in the morning, the country reported its fourth death and a rise of 123 cases from the previous day.
Now, South Korea has a total of 602 known cases of coronavirus—a huge spike from Thursday when the country’s tally stood at 104. Since then, KCDC has reported triple digits in new cases daily: 100 on Friday and 229 on Saturday.
The outbreak in South Korea is the largest outside of mainland China, where the virus first emerged.
The fifth death involves a 56-year-old woman, who was among 329 confirmed cases linked to the Shincheonji Church in the city of Daegu, which is home to about 2.5 million people and located roughly 186 miles southeast of the capital, Seoul. According to Yonhap, she died at Kyungpook National University Hospital in Daegu while receiving treatment for the virus.
A follower of the church, a 61-year-old female, first tested positive for the virus on Feb. 18—the country’s 31st confirmed case. Before she tested positive, Daegu and the broader North Gyeongsang Province did not have any known cases of the virus.
More than 9,330 church members are now under self-quarantine. Among them, 1,248 have shown symptoms of the virus, according to KCDC.
The fourth death was a 57-year-old patient at Daenam Hospital at Cheongdo, a county in North Gyeongsang Province.
Also on Sunday, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in raised the country’s virus alert level to “serious,” the highest in a four-tier system.
“The COVID-19 incident has been confronted by a grave watershed. A few days from now is a very important moment,” Moon said, according to local newspaper The Korea Times.
Moon added: “The government will perceive the crisis in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province as a national one.”
Of the new cases from Sunday, more than 110 are in Daegu and 25 are in North Gyeongsang Province, according to the KCDC.
“Although the situation is grave, we can overcome it,” Moon emphasized. He said local authorities should not hesitate to take “unprecedented powerful” measures and they should not be limited by “regulations.”
On Sunday afternoon, U.S. military forces in South Korea said that there remain “zero confirmed cases” of the virus among U.S. military personnel stationed there despite the rise in known cases.
It also announced a number of health protection measures for U.S. soldiers, such as avoiding large groups, and avoiding travel or contact with others while sick.
In response to the spike in coronavirus cases, South Korean government officials announced on Sunday that the new school year will be postponed by a week to March 9, for all of the country’s kindergartens, elementary, middle, and high schools, according to Yonhap.