Coronavirus cases in South Korea up to 433 overnight

There were 433 cases confirmed on Saturday.

February 22, 2020, 10:41 AM

SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea's number of newly confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus more than doubled Saturday to a total of 433 -- an eightfold jump in just four days.

PHOTO: This picture taken on February 19, 2020 shows South Korean health officials spray disinfectant near Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the southeastern city of Daegu on Feb. 19, 2020, after a number of churchgoers were identified as having COVID-19.
This picture taken on February 19, 2020 shows South Korean health officials spray disinfectant near Shincheonji Church of Jesus, in the southeastern city of Daegu on Feb. 19, 2020, after a number of churchgoers were identified as having COVID-19.
YONHAP/AFP via Getty Images

"The situation is entering a new phase," Vice Health and Welfare Minister Kim Kang-lip told reporters. But the high number of confirmed cases is also because the country’s medical industry has high diagnostic capability, according to experts.

The current period is still "early stage" and the government is cautiously confident that the spread of the novel coronavirus could be contained surrounding the Daegu area, Kim added.

PHOTO: A man wearing a mask rides his motorbike past a branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (not pictured) in Daegu, South Korea on Feb. 21, 2020.
A man wearing a mask rides his motorbike past a branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (not pictured) in Daegu, South Korea on Feb. 21, 2020. Eighty percent of the confirmed cases have been linked to Daenam Hospital and to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus.
Kim Hong-ji/Reuters

Daegu, South Korea’s fourth-largest city, has been designated a "special management zone" along with Daenam Hospital in nearby Cheongdo County where two deaths have been reported. The central government is channeling medical support to the zone with more staff, hospital beds and equipment.

PHOTO:A patient suspected of carrying the new coronavirus, COVID-19, arrives at Kyungpook National University Hospital in Daegu, South Korea, Feb. 19, 2020.
A patient suspected of carrying the new coronavirus, COVID-19, arrives at Kyungpook National University Hospital in Daegu, South Korea, Feb. 19, 2020.
Yonhap/EPA via Shutterstock

Eighty percent of the confirmed have been linked to Daenam Hospital and to a religious sect in the Daegu area. Health authorities are scrambling to test 9,300 members of Shincheonji Church of Jesus who have reportedly spent time in close contact with each other during services and gatherings in the past two weeks. Over 1,200 of them self-reported suspicious symptoms.

All medical staff and patients at Daenam Hospital are also undergoing tests. Of particular concern is the hospital's psychiatric ward, which operates as an enclosed facility. Almost all of the confirmed coronavirus cases were among patients in the psychiatric ward.

PHOTO: People suspected of being infected with the new coronavirus wait to be tested at a medical center in Daegu, South Korea, Feb. 20, 2020.
People suspected of being infected with the new coronavirus wait to be tested at a medical center in Daegu, South Korea, Feb. 20, 2020. The mayor of Daegu urged its 2.5 million people to refrain from going outside as cases of a new virus spiked and he pleaded for help from the central government.
Lee Moo-ryul/AP

Authorities reported 111 total confirmed -- 102 patients and 9 medical staff. The rapid pace of infection is presumably because of frequent contact in a small space, Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Jung Eun-kyeong explained at a press briefing.

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