South Korea reports fewer than 150 new coronavirus cases


Medical staff members wearing protective gear carry a patient infected with Covid-19 at a hospital in Seoul on March 8, 2020. - AFP

SEOUL (AFP): South Korea, one of the worst-affected countries in the coronavirus epidemic outside China, on Tuesday (March 10) reported fewer than 150 new cases for the first time in two weeks.

A total of 131 infections were confirmed on Monday, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.

Three more people died, it added, taking the death toll to 54.

The rise in infections took its total to 7,513. Each morning, the South announces how many cases were diagnosed the previous day, and gives an update every afternoon with the current day's figures so far.

Monday's figure marked the fourth consecutive daily fall and was the lowest for a single day since late February.

The South was the first country to report significant coronavirus numbers outside China, where the disease first emerged.

But in recent days the focus of global concern has been moving towards Italy and Iran.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday noted his country's "slowing trend" but warned: "We should not be complacent at all."

Authorities say the risk of small cluster infections continues and the public have been urged to refrain from group events such as protests or religious services.

More than 60 per cent of the country's cases are linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a religious sect often condemned as a cult.

One of its members attended at least four services before being diagnosed.

Scores of events -- from K-pop concerts to sports matches -- have been cancelled or postponed over the contagion, with school and kindergarten breaks extended by three weeks nationwide. - AFP

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