02/27/2020, 12.24
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Seoul, new peak in infections. Pyongyang prolongs school holidays

The South Korean government claims that 307 of 334 new infections have occurred in Daegu. In the country, the main focus is a pseudo-Christian sect. Pyongyang chooses to isolate itself: prevention is the only option. Moscow sends 1,500 diagnostic test kits for coronaviruses to the regime.

Seoul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - South Korea registered another daily peak of 334 new infections from Covid-19, which brings the total number of infections in the country to 1,595. Health authorities fear, however, to identify other cases in the city most affected by the epidemic, Daegu, and in the neighboring regions: clinical tests have started on over 210 thousand members of a pseudo-Christian sect, at the center of the rapid spread of the virus at national level .

This morning, the coronavirus emergency pushed the Armed Forces of South Korea and the United States to postpone the annual joint military exercises on the peninsula. Each year, the latter are a cause for tensions with the North Korean regime, which today announces the extension of school holidays as a last measure to avoid contagions.

So far, Pyongyang has not reported any cases of Covid-19. The country, which is subject to international sanctions because of its nuclear and missile programs, has weak medical infrastructure. The regime has isolated itself from the outside world, closing its borders. For analysts, prevention is the only option. The North has banned tourists, suspended trains and international flights; quarantined hundreds of foreigners, under restrictions so tight that the Russian ambassador called them "morally devastating".

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it had supplied 1,500 diagnostic test kits for coronavirus at the request of Pyongyang. "We hope this will help North Korea prevent the infection from entering the country," Moscow says in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Seoul government claims that of the 334 new infections, 307 occurred in Daegu - 300 kilometers southeast of the capital - and four in the neighboring northern Gyeongsang province. The number of cases in the two locations is 1,017 and 321 respectively.

Since Seoul raised the alarm level to "red" because of the virus, the highest, four days ago, health authorities have focused on containing the epidemic in Daegu. , epicenter of the national emergency. On January 20, South Korea identified its "patient 0": a Chinese woman from Wuhan, where the virus originated; but the pace of infections was not alarming until February 18, when a 61-year-old woman, a member of the Daegu branch of a sect called the Shincheonji Church, who has many ties to China, tested positive.

The deputy minister of health, Kim Gang-lip, said in a daily briefing that the authorities plan to complete medical tests on the members of the sect within two or three days. Kim reports that tests have been completed on around 1,300 members. In a statement, the Daegu sect declares that as of yesterday 833 of its 1,848 followers have been infected. The remaining 7,446 members are awaiting the test results.

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