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South Korea reports 52 new cases of coronavirus

February 21, 2020

Of the new cases, 39 have been traced back to a church in Daegu. The southern city has been declared a "special care zone," as has neighboring Cheongdo County. In Seoul, rallies were halted to stop the spread.

People wearing masks at Myeongdong on February 20, 2020 in Seoul, South Korea.
Citizens wearing masks in Seoul, South Korea.Image: picture-alliance/AA/J.-H. Kim

South Korea reported 52 new cases of coronavirus, or COVID-19 on Friday, taking up the number of infected to 156. The country now has the second-highest number of infected people after China. 

The country also confirmed its first death from coronavirus on Thursday. The Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that of the new cases, 39 were from the southern city of Daegu. All of these cases were linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the city. The infections have been traced to a 61-year-old woman, who attended the church. The sect has since shut down its services. The mayor of Daegu, Kwon Young-jin has advised residents to stay indoors as much as possible. 

Workers in protective gear spray disinfectant outside a church in Daegu, South Korea
Workers spray disinfectant outside a church in DaeguImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/K. Jun-boem

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said that Daegu and the neighboring area of Cheongdo County would be declared as "special care zones." The government is trying to identify those who might have come in contact with infected people, and diagnose the disease at the earliest opportunity. "We will proactively provide necessary assistance including sickbeds, personnel, and equipment," the PM said in a meeting with senior officials. 

Read more: WHO: Coronavirus data points to decline in new cases

Also on Friday, officials in the capital Seoul banned public rallies in a bid to control the spread of the disease. 

Vietnam lifts border controls as COVID-19 hits

The coronavirus outbreak that originated in China has infected more than 76,000 globally. It was named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization due to the coronavirus that causes it, and the year 2019 when it originated. 

tg/msh (AFP, Reuters)