South Korea’s Cases of Novel Coronavirus Climb Above 5,000

March 3, 2020 Updated: March 3, 2020
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South Korea, hard-hit by the novel coronavirus, now has over 5,000 confirmed cases with at least 29 fatalities.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 600 new cases on March 2 to bring the national tally to 4,812. Then the government announced 374 additional cases as of 4 p.m. local time on March 3, to bring the country’s total cases to 5,186.

So far KCDC has not announced details of the 374 new cases.

Of the 4,812 confirmed cases, 3,601 cases are in Daegu and 685 cases are in the broader North Gyeongsang province.

Daegu, home to about 2.5 million people, is located about 186 miles southeast of the capital Seoul.

Outside of North Gyeongsang province, three of the hard-hit regions are Seoul, Gyeonggi province, and the coastal city of Busan, with 98, 94, and 90 known cases of the virus, respectively.

Among the 4,812 cases, 2,383 are connected to the Shincheonji Church in Daegu.

Many of those cases related to the church have been traced back to a 61-year-old female follower of the church who tested positive for the virus on Feb. 18 as the country’s 31st confirmed case.

KCDC also spoke of age distribution and gender differences among the 4,812 cases, according to local outlet Yonhap News Agency. While the death rate was about 0.6 percent for infected patients, the fatality rate was higher for elders—4 percent for people aged between 70 and 79, and 5.4 percent for those older than 80 years old.

Women accounted for 62.4 percent of infected patients, while people in their 20s accounted for 29.4 percent of the infected cases, the highest of the different age brackets.

Kwon Jun-wook, KCDC’s deputy director, said on Tuesday that one infected patient, a follower of the church, traveled to Wuhan before testing positive for the virus late last month, according to Yonhap. Kwon did not provide any other details about the patient or the trip to China.

The escalating coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei province, in December 2019.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in declared “war” on the outbreak at a weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

“The crisis in Daegu and North Gyeongsang province reached its peak and the whole country has entered a war against the infectious disease,” said Moon according to Yonhap.

Moon added that the outbreak has had a toll on the Korean economy, saying the country’s economic situation is “grave.”

Many Korean soldiers have been infected with the virus. As of early Tuesday, 27 on active duty and four civilian workers in the military have been diagnosed with the virus, Yonhap reported, citing the defense ministry.

Among the 31 cases, 17 are in the Army, 11 in the Air Force, two in the Marine Corps, and one in the Navy. Meanwhile, about 7,140 service members are quarantined at their bases.

On March 2, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed confidence in the Korean authorities in containing the outbreak.

“We’re confident in Italy and South Korea’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 outbreak and grateful to our partners for their transparency and tireless work to administer care to those affected by the novel coronavirus,” Pompeo wrote in a tweet.

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