SEOUL – The South Korean authorities reported on Saturday 813 additional coronavirus infections, bringing the total number of cases detected in the country to 3,150, of which there have been 17 deaths.
According to data from the Center for Contagious Disease Control and Prevention of Korea (KCDC) 657 of the new cases are located in Daegu, a city some 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, and another 79 of these were detected in the neighboring province of North Gyeongsang. Around 86 percent of all infections are clustered in this region.
Other provinces and major cities in the country have also registered new infections, including 15 in the capital, Seoul, and another 15 in the town of Busan.
Authorities confirmed Saturday the most recent death as a result of the virus, a 77-year-old diabetic who also had other pre-existing conditions.
They also identified the first case of reinfection of the virus in a 73-year-old woman who tested positive for the second time after spending weeks in quarantine.
South Korea intensified its testing program after declaring the maximum alert level for viruses amid the rapid increase of cases.
Authorities seek to stop the spread especially in North Gyeongsang and Daegu, where most cases have been registered.
Experts expect the number of confirmed cases to increase in the coming days as health authorities assess more than 210,000 Shincheonji members and around 65,000 apprentices.
The KCDC believes that most of the contagion stemmed from the Daegu Shincheonji Church of Jesus headquarters, a religious sect where enormous congregations were held at the beginning of February.
It was at one of these gatherings that a 61-year-old follower, a so-called superspreader, infected many others, leading to a spike in cases in the Asian country.
The spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in South Korea has led more than 70 countries to impose stricter restrictions or quarantine procedures for people coming from the country over fears of the deadly disease spreading further.
A flight by South Korean airline Asiana Airlines that was heading to Hanoi with 40 passengers aboard was forced to turn around on Saturday and return to Incheon international airport after Vietnamese authorities prevented it from landing in the city.
“Although Vietnam has not offered us a clear reason, we believe (that decision) is related to the spread of new coronavirus,” a company spokesman said in statements to South Korean news agency Yonhap.