COVID-19 Cases Doubled In 24 Hours
Updated at 2 p.m. ET
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Korea has doubled in just 24 hours, to 104 from 51, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. Many of the new cases of coronavirus are linked to a Christian sect in Daegu, a city in southern South Korea.
Korea’s CDC says a woman who became the country’s 31st confirmed patient on Feb. 18 had attended services held by a religious group called the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, The Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony.
The woman, who was born in 1959, had visited Wuhan, China — where the novel coronavirus was first discovered in December — the KCDC says. It adds that she was reported to have 1,160 contacts – by far the most of anyone on its list of patients.
The church has shut down” because of the outbreak, NPR’s Anthony Kuhn reports from Seoul.
“Daegu has closed some public facilities,” he adds. “A U.S. Army garrison in Daegu restricted travel in and out of the base and imposed a quarantine on personnel who had visited the church.”
Covid-19 from jan 23 to Feb 19 outside of China
In a message posted online, the Shincheonji church expressed deep regret over the coronavirus cases. It also said it’s cooperating with authorities and is spending several days sterilizing its buildings in Daegu.
The same woman who attended the church also visited Cheongdo Daenam Hospital, which has emerged as a second cluster of infections. Patients and staff there are being tested for the respiratory virus, and the hospital is being disinfected, according to the KCDC.
South Korea is also reporting its first coronavirus-related death
— and the patient was from the Cheongdo Daenam Hospital cluster. While the 63-year-old man had tested positive for the virus, the exact cause of death was still being investigated, the KCDC says.
More than 75,000 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed worldwide, according to a disease-tracking dashboard created by the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering.
The virus has killed more than 2,000 people — most of them in China’s Hubei province, the center of the outbreak. Globally, nearly 17,000 people had recovered from the illness as of Thursday afternoon ET.
Superspreader’ in South Korea infects nearly 40 people with coronavirus
A so-called superspreader infected at least 37 people at her church with the new coronavirus, and dozens of additional worshippers are also showing symptoms of the disease, called COVID-19, according to news reports.
The 61-year-old woman attends the Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony in Daegu, South Korea, according to the international news outlet AFP. The city, located in the southern part of the country, is home to about 2.5 million people. The woman, called “Patient 31” by Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, developed a fever on Feb. 10 and attended four church services before being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Despite running a fever, the woman twice refused to be tested for the coronavirus, as she had not recently traveled abroad, according to The Guardian. So far, she and 37 other members of the church have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2, and 52 additional churchgoers have shown symptoms of infection but have not yet been tested. (SARS-CoV-2 is the name of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.)
Authorities described the outbreak as a “super-spreading event,” as the lone woman transmitted the infection to an unusually high number of people, according to Reuters. Current estimates suggest that a single person with the novel coronavirus spreads the infection to about 2.2 additional people, on average. The surge of infection at the church brings the total number of confirmed cases in South Korea to 104; one death associated with the virus has occurred in the country so far.
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