South Korea on Sunday reported two more deaths and 123 new Coronavirus infections with nearly two-third patients connected to a religious sect, international media reported. The country has over 556 confirmed cases of the virus, making it the second-highest outside China. Meanwhile, COVID-19 has infected over 77,700 people and killed nearly 2,458 people globally with 17 deaths outside mainland China.
The recent two deaths take the nationwide death toll to four. Out of the two who died on Sunday, one was admitted at a hospital in Cheongdo province, media reported. The city is linked to a religious sect which has, till now reported around 100 cases of the deadly virus. Among the latest infections, 75 were involved in Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the southern city of Daegu, as per international media quoting the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
A media report claims that around 9,300 Shincheonji members have been put into self-isolation and will be tested. At a press briefing on February 21, South Korea's Centers for Disease Control & Prevention Director Jung Eun-Kyeong has reportedly said that the authorities are seeing a possibility "that the characteristics of many people sitting close together in a very confined space and holding service for more than an hour ... (could have led to) a few who were exposed infecting many (other) infectees".
As per reports, members of the group congregate in a way that puts them in close contact with one another for long.
Meanwhile, in a bid to combat the infection, the US State Department on February 22 raised its travel advisory to South Korea, joining other countries who are bolstering their vigilance against the country's recent spike in the number of infections.
On the other hand, China has recently reported a significant decline in new cases as well as deaths of the Coronavirus. While this seems like good news, world health officials have warned that it was still too early to make predictions concerning the virus as the number of cases and deaths in other countries continue to rise.