South Korea's President Moon Jae-in said today that the government will raise the country's disease alert by one notch to the highest level in a bid to contain a surge in new cornavirus cases.
New coronavirus cases in the country jumped by 123 taking total infections to 556 and the death toll rose to five, according to the Korea Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.
South Korea's earlier cases were linked to China but the new infections centre in two places, Daegu, a city of about 2.5 million, and a hospital in Cheongdo, a county with about 43,000 people. Both have been designated "special care zones".
More than half the new cases in South Korea were linked to a Shincheonji Church of Jesus congregation in Daegu, after a woman known as "Patient 31" who attended services tested positive for the virus last week. The woman had no recent record of overseas travel.
The coronavirus originated in China and has spread to more than two dozen countries. China has reported 76,936 cases and 2,442 deaths, according to data through February 22, 2019.