SEOUL (AFP, REUTERS) - South Korea confirmed 70 more novel coronavirus cases Monday afternoon (Feb 24), bringing its tally to 833, a day after the government raised its infectious disease alert to its highest level.
The updated figures on the website of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) brought the country's daily increase to 231, its highest to date. Earlier in the day, KCDC reported 161 new cases of the coronavirus, and said of the new cases 115 were linked to a church in the south-eastern city of Daegu after a 61-year-old woman known as "Patient 31" who attended services there tested positive.
KCDC also reported the seventh death from the virus, a 62-year-old man from a hospital in Cheongdo, a county that saw surges in confirmed cases along with nearby Daegu in recent weeks.
Authorities are still investigating the exact cause of the new outbreak, with Patient 31 having no recent record of overseas travel. South Korea, which has by far the largest national total outside China, imposed its highest infectious disease alert on Sunday, vowing extra resources to the region and limiting public activities.
Catholic churches in Daegu and Gwangju have suspended services and other gatherings, while churches elsewhere saw declines in attendance on Sunday, especially among the elderly.
South Korea's president Moon Jae-in said the authorities were raising the disease alert to the highest level, allowing authorities to send extra resources to Daegu city and Cheongdo county, which were designated "special care zones" on Friday.