- The number of coronavirus cases in South Korea reached 156 on Friday.
- Soldiers at the Navy, Army and Air Force have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- With 52 new confirmed cases, South Korea has the highest number of coronavirus infections outside China.
According to Yonhap News Agency, a government-funded mainstream publication in South Korea, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the nation has reached 156.
Fifty-two additional cases have been reported overnight, with no further details on where the newly identified individuals are located.
Coronavirus is spreading among military personnel
Asia Business Daily, a top business-focused newspaper in South Korea, reported on Friday that the coronavirus outbreak has started to affect the South Korean military.
Earlier this week, a navy soldier working in Jeju Island, a major autonomous region within the country, was diagnosed with coronavirus.
After the first confirmed infection emerged within the military, more cases were reported from the Navy, Army and Air Force.
All of the confirmed cases are said to have come from a cult church called Shincheonji Church of Jesus, which has left the city of Daegu vulnerable to lock down.
Daegu’s mayor has already advised millions of residents to refrain from leaving their homes in the foreseeable future.
As CCN.com reported, the mayor identified coronavirus as a level four outbreak, assigning it the highest level of seriousness for a virus outbreak.
Within a span of two weeks, coronavirus in South Korea went from a level 1 to a level 4 outbreak. The levels correspond to attentive, caution, alert and serious, respectively.
What happens next?
South Korea is now the country with the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases outside China.
The South Korean government has been heavily criticized since late January, when it demonstrated reluctance towards imposing travel restrictions on Chinese nationals and individuals from Wuhan.
With the nation at risk of becoming the center of a pandemic, the government is expected to take a stricter approach to lessen the impact of the outbreak.
In the short-term, that will involve focusing the central government’s resources to contain the outbreak in Daegu as much as possible.
All schools in Daegu have been shut down until further notice, and the majority of stores have been asked to close down.
Another metropolitan area affected
Gwangju, South Korea’s sixth most populous city, saw three new confirmed cases of coronavirus overnight. These individuals also visited the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, the center of the coronavirus outbreak.
Nearly every individual that visited the cult church and had contact with those that went to the venue are currently being evaluated for coronavirus.
This week, Gwangju confirmed that the 458 people that had contact with two infected individuals have been cleared from hospital. Yet, the three new cases have put the city at risk of seeing a Daegu-like scenario in the near-term.
This article was edited by Sam Bourgi.
Last modified: February 21, 2020 2:01 AM UTC