South Korea's coronavirus total nears 6,000, with 35 deaths

Medical workers at a special facility set up to treat coronavirus patients at a public hospital in Seoul, on March 4, 2020.
Medical workers at a special facility set up to treat coronavirus patients at a public hospital in Seoul, on March 4, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korea’s total number of coronavirus cases – the largest outside China, where the disease first emerged – approached 6,000 on Thursday (March 5) as the authorities reported 145 new infections.

The total stood at 5,766, the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said, with three additional fatalities, bringing death toll to 35.

So far, 36 countries and regions have imposed a blanket entry ban on people who have recently been in the South, according to the foreign ministry in Seoul.

Nearly 90 per cent of the national total come from the southern city of Daegu – with more than 4,300 cases confirmed there – and the neighbouring North Gyeongsang province.

The outbreak in the city of 2.5 million among members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus began with a 61-year-old woman, who developed symptoms on Feb 10 and attended at least four services in the city.

The government proposed an extra budget of 11.7 trillion won (S$13.7 billion) on Wednesday to address the epidemic’s impact and improve the country’s infectious disease prevention system.

It is part of a 30 trillion won package President Moon Jae-in announced on Tuesday to address the “grave” situation brought on by the outbreak in the world’s 12th-largest economy.

Scores of events in the country – from K-pop concerts to sports seasons – have been cancelled or postponed over the contagion, with school and kindergarten breaks extended by three weeks nationwide.

The government on Thursday lengthened a nationwide daycare centre closure for a further two weeks.