New virus cases soar in S.Korea
Published: 11:18 PM, 21 February 2020
Infections nearly doubled in South Korea and clusters surfaced in Chinese prisons on Friday, rekindling concerns about an epidemic that has killed more than 2,200 people in China.
In South Korea, the number of cases nearly doubled to 204, making it the hardest-hit country outside China.
More than 120 members of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a religious sect in the southern city of Daegu, have now been infected.
It started with a 61-year-old woman who developed a fever on February 10 but attended at least four church services before being diagnosed.
The mayor of Daegu — South Korea’s fourth-biggest city, with a population of over 2.5 million — has advised residents to stay indoors.
Most people on the streets were wearing masks Friday, but many businesses were closed and workers sprayed disinfectant outside the church.
“With so many confirmed cases here I’m worried that Daegu will become the second Wuhan,” said Seo Dong-min, 24, referring to Hubei’s capital, where the virus first emerged.
Two Australians evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, meanwhile, tested positive for coronavirus on their return home despite being cleared in Japan.
An Israeli also tested positive upon returning home — becoming his country’s first COVID-19 case.
The cases will fuel questions about Tokyo’s policy of allowing former Diamond Princess passengers to return home after testing negative.
Two former passengers, both Japanese and in their 80s, died in Japan on Thursday.
“If we don’t hit hard now using the window of opportunity we might be faced with a serious problem,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday.
The World Health Organization warned nations could face a serious problem if they fail to “hit hard now” against the virus, which has infected more than 75,000 in China and over 1,100 abroad.
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