South Korea confirmed 284 new cases of the novel coronavirus today as health authorities readied an ambitious plan to test more than 200-thousand members of a religious sect hit hardest by the country's outbreak.
The new cases pushed the total tally to 12-61 topping 1-thousand 37 days since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in this country.
We've also learned of another fatality bringing the death toll to 12.
Let's connect with our Lee Kyung-eun at the Arirang News Center for the details.
Kyung-eun, what do we know as of late?
South Korea has confirmed its 12th death from COVID-19 on Wednesday.
The man, a 73-year-old from Daegu, had been receiving respiratory treatment in the city's Keimyung University Dongsan Hospital.
He is one of the members of the religious group Sincheonji, which is at the center of the massive rise in cases over the past few days.
Also, some 2-hundred-53 new cases were confirmed as of Wednesday, which brings the total number of cases to one,one-hundred-46.
Most of the cases are from Daegu and the southeast.
That includes Cheongdo, where Daenam hospital is located where 1-hundred-12 cases and seven deaths out of total 12 have been reported.
The hospital is currently under a so-called "cohort quarantine", meaning it has locked itself down and 25 patients have been transported to other medical centers due to their serious condition.
Those left inside are being treated with by medical staffs dispatched externally.
The situation is rapidly changing day by day. Is there any pattern among the latest cases?
Yes, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that there are two notable trends.
First is that the majority of the cases are coming from group activities, including religious gatherings.
Second is that elderly people and those with pre-existing conditions are more prone to contract the virus.
Accordingly, the health ministry, earlier today, has advised people to refrain from engaging in group activities.
"We advise people to refrain from joining social gatherings like corporate get-togethers and trips,as well as private meetings that are not urgent or necessary."
Also, to contain the virus from spreading from into communities, the KCDC is delivering the entire list of the two-hundred-12-thousand members of the Shincheonji religious group to municipal governments for a thorough investigation.
And the Catholic association has announced today that all catholic churches in South Korea will temporarily suspend their mass services for the first time in its 2-hundred-36-year history.
But, after all, preventing the virus is highly dependent on how well you practice personal hygiene advices like wearing a mask. How is the government making sure the people can get hold to masks?
To solve the mask shortages within country, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety announced today that it will make sure that 3.five million masks are supplied each day to drug stores and public retailors like the Post Office.
It also pledged that 5-hundred-thousand will be sent to medical centers.
Some 1 million masks will be immediately sent to the city of Daegu.
Also, to prevent hospital infections, the KCDC has designated some 91 hospitals as safe institutions for people to visit,as they treat patients with respiratory problems in a separated zone.
The list of institutions can be found on the government website below.
Kyung-eun, although the virus originated from China, we're obviously seeing a rapid spread here in South Korea, in other Asian countries, the Middle East, but also Europe. The situation in Italy is alarming, but at least five countries in Europe have now reported a COVID-19 case raising concerns of a potential pandemic.
You're right, Connyoung. Europe is on high-alert, with Italy being hit hardest.
The country has confirmed 3-hundred-22 cases and 11 deaths as of Tuesday local time.
The infections have increased by 93 from the previous day.
And the virus is spreading across to neighboring countries.
In Austria, there are 2 cases, and Switzerland and Croatia reported one each.
The confirmed patients in these countries have reportedly have travel history to Italy.
That's all for now, back to you.
The situation is not looking good. Our Lee Kyungeun wiht the latest. Thank you.