South Korea reported two additional deaths from coronavirus and 123 more cases Sunday, with nearly two thirds of the new patients connected to a spiritual sect.
The national toll of 556 cases is now the second-highest outside of China, aside from the Diamond Princess cruise liner in Japan, after the amount of the infections soared in recent days.
The two deaths take the countrywide total to four.
One of the victims was at a hospital in Cheongdo, a southern city linked to the sect , where around 100 cases were reported.
China reported a pointy decrease in new deaths and cases of the coronavirus on Saturday but a doubling of infections in South Korea and 10 new cases in Iran added to unease about its rapid spread and global reach.
Among the newest infections, 75 involved the Shincheonji Church of Jesus within the southern city of Daegu, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said during a statement.
Hundreds of members of the church have now been infected, starting with a 61-year-old woman who developed a fever on February 10 but attended a minimum of four church services in Daegu before being diagnosed.
Daegu — South Korea’s fourth-biggest city, with a population of two .5 million — reported quite 90 new cases on Sunday, bringing the city’s total to 247, mayor Kwon Young-jin said.
“The crisis level of Daegu and therefore the North Gyeongsang province is grave,” said Kwon Young-jin, who advised locals to remain indoors.
The mayor asked all Shincheonji members with symptoms to return forward and be tested.
“Hiding isn’t the solution . If you hide, it could hurt your health, your family’s health, and can not help within the early cessation of things ,” Kwon Young-jin told a press conference .
Daegu and Cheongdo — the birthplace of Shincheonji’s founder Lee Man-hee — were desginated as “special management zones” on Friday.
The US State Department on Saturday raised its travel advisory to South Korea , joining a couple of nations bolstering their vigilance against the country’s recent spike within the number of infections.
US citizens were asked to “exercise increased caution” when travelling to South Korea , where “sustained community spread” has been reported.
“Sustained community spread means people in South Korea are infected with the virus, but how or where they became infected isn’t known, and therefore the spread is ongoing,” the State Department said on its website.
Separately, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also issued an ‘Alert Level 2’ travel health notice, saying “older adults and people with chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel.”
Britain has also advised its nationals “against about essential visit Daegu and Cheongdo”, while Israel refused to permit non-Israelis to disembark from a plane that departed from South Korea on Saturday.