South Korea wages “all-out response” – cases exceed 4,000

“The government is now waging all-out responses after raising the crisis alert to the highest level.”

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has announced that is government will wage “all-out responses” in response to the outbreak of coronavirus which has added 476 new cases in the past 24 hours, taking the total of infections to 4,212. The death toll in South Korea has now reached 22.

South Korea has the largest national total in the world outside China.

Events, concerts and conferences have been cancelled or postponed, while the country’s central bank warning of negative growth for Q1 in the world’s 12th-largest economy.

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“We will be able to overcome the COVID-19 outbreak and revive our shrunken economy,” said President Moon.

Across the country there are major disruptions which will affect export and sales. Samsung Electronics has suspended operations at its domestic smartphone plant in Gumi for the second time in a week, after a third employee tested positive for the virus. Hyundai Motors has stopped operations at one of its Ulsan plants after an employee also tested positive.

Seoul concerts by K-pop superstars BTS, kicking off their record world tour, and the World Team Table Tennis Championships were among cancelled events. Sports leagues have had to reschedule their season around the impact from the outbreak. The US and South Korean militaries have postponed forthcoming joint exercises.

Nearly 90% of the cases are in Daegu, the epicentre of the country’s outbreak, and neighbouring North Gyeongsang province. The numbers are still expected to rise medics check more than 260,000 people associated with the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a Christian cult where members appear to have unwittingly spread the disease. A 61 year old female member developed a fever on February 10, but attended at least four church services in Daegu before being diagnosed.

The Shincheonji church apologised yesterday on behalf of its members who had kept their religion secret.

“It will be hard for our devotees to reveal their identity when political leaders are recklessly criticising Shincheonji as the epicentre.”

But South Korean officials maintain they are not considering a citywide ‘lockdown’ similar to Wuhan, where the virus first emerged.

The new school term start has been delayed one week nationwide and three weeks in Daegu.

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