03/03/2020, 09.12
SOUTH KOREA
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Moon declares 'war' on the virus. Affect almost 5 thousand people

Almost 90% of the infected are concentrated in the city of Daegu and in the province of North Gyeongsang. The Shincheonji Christian sect caused 59.1% of cases. Sect members visited Wuhan (China) in early February, when the Chinese city was in isolation. At least 87 countries and regions have imposed a ban or mandatory quarantine on visitors to South Korea.

Seoul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - In a meeting held this morning with the country's health authorities, President Moon Jae-in declared a "war" on the coronavirus which to date has affected at least 4800 people. The majority of them, about 90%, are concentrated in the city of Daegu, 300 km southeast of Seoul and in the province of North Gyeongsang.

Daegu, the fourth largest city in South Korea, with about 2.5 million inhabitants, is home to an important branch of the Shincheonji Christian sect, held by many as the "source" of the infection in the country.

The National Center for Disease Prevention and Control traces at least 56.1% of cases to cult members. Yesterday the sect leader apologized in public for causing harm to the nation. Health officials said some members of Shincheonji had visited the city of Wuhan (Hubei, China), the global epicenter of the epidemic "after January", when the city was already in isolation.

But it is also true that the first cases of coronavirus infection were registered in the country as early as January 20, perhaps by tourists or people from China. After February 14, however, there has been a dramatic increase in infections.

Health authorities say that the epidemic has reached its maximum level: an increase of 1062 patients was recorded yesterday, the highest so far; two days ago the increase was 813.

So far, the virus has killed 28 people, all already suffering other diseases. A new increase in infections is expected, as authorities have started testing more than 210,000 Shincheonji members. To date, 121,039 people have been tested in the country, of which 85,484 have tested negative for the virus. At least 35 thousand have been placed in quarantine.

Stopping the spread of the virus is the first step in trying to emerge from the human drama and aid the economy which was deeply affected, given the isolation to which Korean travelers are subjected. At least 87 countries and regions have imposed a ban or a mandatory quarantine on visitors from South Korea. These would include China, the Maldives and Russia. The United States has not placed any restrictions, but only requires temperature control for those traveling to the United States.

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