Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

People wear masks to prevent the coronavirus (COVID-19) walks along the street on February 21, 2020 in Seoul, South Korea. South Korea said two people have died and 204 have been infected with the virus, quadruple the number of cases it had two days earlier.

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

South Korea on Saturday reported a sixfold jump in viral infections in four days to 346, most of them linked to a church and a hospital in and around the fourth-largest city where schools were closed and worshippers and others told to avoid mass gatherings.

Initial infections were linked to China, but new cases in South Korea and Iran – where there have been four deaths – don’t show a clear connection to travel there. In an emerging cluster of illnesses in northern Italy, the first to fall ill met with someone who had returned from China on Jan. 21 without experiencing any symptoms of the new virus, health authorities said.

China said Saturday the daily count of new virus cases there fell significantly to 397, with another 109 people dying of the disease, most in the epicentre of Hubei province.

Story continues below advertisement

The new figures bring the total number of cases in mainland China to 76,288 with 2,345 deaths, as strict quarantine measures and travel bans continue to contain the disease that emerged in China in December and has since spread worldwide. The daily figure is down from 889 on Friday.

Of the 142 new cases in South Korea, 131 are from Daegu and nearby regions, which have emerged as the latest front in the widening global fight against COVID-19.

South Korea’s Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said Saturday that the outbreak had entered a serious new phase, but still expressed cautious optimism that it can be contained to the region surrounding Daegu, where the first case was reported on Tuesday.

By Saturday morning, the city of 2.5 million and nearby areas counted 283 cases, including South Korea’s first two fatalities in Cheongdo hospital.

The central government has declared the area as a “special management zone” and is channelling support to ease a shortage in hospital beds, medical personnel and equipment.

“Although we are beginning to see some more cases nationwide, infections are still sporadic outside of the special management zone of Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province,” Kim said during a briefing. He called for maintaining strong border controls to prevent infections from China and elsewhere from entering South Korea.

Nationwide, the numbers told of a ballooning problem. There were 20 new cases reported Wednesday, 53 on Thursday and 100 on Friday.

Story continues below advertisement

Around 170 of those have been directly linked to a single house of worship, a Daegu branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, where a woman in her 60s attended two services before testing positive for the virus.

Officials are also investigating a possible link between churchgoers and the spike in infections at the Cheongdo hospital, where 111 people have so far been infected, mostly patients at a mental illness ward.

Kim said health officials were screening some 9,300 of the church followers who were in self-quarantine at their homes, and that about 540 have exhibited cough and other symptoms. The virus patients at the Cheongdo hospital were transferred to other facilities, but 17 of them were in critical condition, Kim said without elaborating.

All 74 sites operated by the Shincheonji Church have been closed and worshippers have been told to instead watch services online for a sect whose leader claims to be an angel of Christ, but who is dismissed by many outsiders as a cult leader. Its teachings revolve largely around the Book of Revelation, a chapter of the New Testament known mostly for its apocalyptic foreshadowing.

Health and city officials say the woman who first tested positive had contact with some 1,160 people, both at the church, a restaurant and a hospital where she was treated for injuries from a car accident.

But officials say it’s unlikely that the woman set off the chain of infections, and that she was probably just the first person to be detected in an area where the virus was circulating in the population.

Story continues below advertisement

“I hope South Korea will do everything to contain this outbreak at this early stage,” Tedros said.

Usually bustling downtown streets of Daegu were nearly deserted as people wearing face masks lined up at clinics seeking testing. Crowds formed in supermarkets where shelves of ramen and curry were nearly bare. Eight hundred area schools, due to start a new academic year on March 2, delayed their openings by a week.

“Panic is taking hold,” said Daegu resident Huh Mi-yeon. “People are scared of any situation where they would run into another person.”

The first three cases in the country’s 600,000-member military also sprung up on separate bases Friday, bringing added concern. A sailor on Jeju Island and an army officer in North Chungcheong province both tested positive. Both had made recent visits to Daegu, officials said. A third infection was reported in an air force officer who is based in Daegu but who had recently travelled to military headquarters in central South Korea, the defence ministry said, prompting the quarantine of 80 soldiers there.

A U.S. Army garrison in Daegu restricted access and imposed self-quarantine for American troops.

In Japan, a middle school teacher in her 60s tested positive for the virus, prompting concern for the health of other teachers and students in Makuhari in Chiba prefecture southeast of Tokyo.

Story continues below advertisement

Chiba Mayor Toshihito Kumagai said the school was closed and all teachers will be tested and students monitored.

Globally, more than 77,000 people have been infected in 29 countries, and more than 2,300 have died. Italian authorities say a 78-year-old man died of the disease and the number of people infected has more than quadrupled due to an emerging cluster of cases in the country’s north. Many of the new cases represented the first infections in Italy acquired through secondary contagion and brought the country’s total to 19 on Friday.

In the United States, 35 people have tested positive for the virus, including 18 who returned home from a quarantined cruise ship in Japan and one new case reported Friday in California.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you manage your health, your finances and your family life as Canada reopens.
Visit the hub

In the interests of public health and safety, our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access. However, The Globe depends on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe to globeandmail.com. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.

Your subscription helps The Globe and Mail provide readers with critical news at a critical time. Thank you for your continued support. We also hope you will share important coronavirus news articles with your friends and family. In the interest of public health and safety, all our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies