South Korean President Moon Jae-in yesterday said that the government was waging “all-out responses” to contain COVID-19 as the country reported 376 new cases, taking the total to 3,526.
South Korea has the largest national total in the world outside China, after it saw a rapid surge in the number of coronavirus cases in the past few days.
Scores of events have been canceled or postponed over the contagion, while the country’s central bank has warned of negative growth in the first quarter for the world’s 12th-largest economy, saying that the epidemic would hit consumption and exports.
“The government is now waging all-out responses after raising the crisis alert to the highest level,” Moon said at an Independence Movement Day ceremony, scaled down due to the outbreak.
“We will be able to overcome the COVID-19 outbreak and revive our shrunken economy,” he added.
Samsung Electronics on Saturday suspended operations at its domestic smartphone plant in Gumi — 200km southeast of Seoul — for the second time in a week, after a third employee tested positive for the virus.
Hyundai Motor also stopped operations at one of its Ulsan plants after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus.
Concerts by K-pop superstars BTS and the World Team Table Tennis Championships were among canceled events, while sports leagues have modified their seasons to help contain the virus.
K-pop star Chungha was placed in self-quarantine when a member of her staff tested positive after visiting Italy last month, Yonhap news agency reported. The singer tested negative.
Nearly 90 percent of the cases were in Daegu and neighboring North Gyeongsang Province, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said in a statement.
South Korea’s death toll remains at 17.
South Korea has an advanced health system and a free media, factors observers say improve the reliability of its statistics, with the numbers expected to rise as it checks more than 260,000 people associated with the Shincheonji Church of Jesus.
A 61-year-old female member developed a fever on Feb. 10, but attended at least four church services in Daegu — the country’s fourth-largest city with a population of 2.5 million — before being diagnosed.
About 60 percent of the cases were linked to the church, the KCDC said.
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