Seoul (hooly News) – South Korea saw a sharp increase in the number of people infected with the coronavirus on Saturday, with 229 new cases, including an employee of a Samsung factory whose activity has been suspended, a situation deemed ” serious “by the Prime Minister.
With a total of 433 cases reported by the authorities, South Korea has the second largest number of patients on its soil, after China, where the epidemic started – except for the focus of infection of the diamond liner Princess in Japan.
The Covid-19 epidemic has entered a “serious phase and the government is doing everything to prevent the spread,” said Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun in an address on Saturday evening.
He called on the South Koreans to avoid large gatherings, including religious services. Chung also threatened harsh sanctions against anyone who stores protective masks or participates in protests, which are now banned.
A second person died of the disease, said the Korean Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), after a previous death on February 19.
Among the new patients is an employee of a Samsung Electronics factory in Gumi, 200 kilometers southeast of Seoul, which prompted the tech giant to announce a suspension of activities on this site until Monday.
– Christian worship –
One of the two main foci of contamination in the country remains the hospital in Cheongdo (south): 95 of the last reported cases are “linked”, according to the KCDC, to patients or staff of this hospital, where the two people died had been admitted.
“Most of the patients at this hospital who were diagnosed are those who were admitted to the hospital for mental health problems,” said Deputy Minister of Health Kim Gang-lip.
The other home is the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a Christian sect in the city of Daegu, not far from Cheongdo, of which more than 200 members have been infected.
The first is a 61-year-old woman, who was unaware of having contracted viral pneumonia and allegedly transmitted the virus, notably by attending religious services in Daegu.
Cheongdo is the birthplace of Lee Man-hee, the founder of this sect. Three weeks ago, Mr. Lee’s brother’s funeral was held for three days in a room belonging to this hospital.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in asked for a “thorough investigation” on Friday of each of those who attended the funeral and the church services in Shincheonji.
The Shincheonji Church apologized and suspended rites and gatherings across the country.
But the leader told his followers that the epidemic was “caused by the Devil”, comparing it to Job’s biblical punishment, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.
The mayor of Daegu, the fourth city of South Korea (2.5 million inhabitants), called on the inhabitants to remain confined to their homes.
Some 9,300 members of the Shincheonji Church in Daegu have been quarantined in specific facilities or encouraged to stay at home, the KCDC also said.
Among them, 1,261, against 544 in a previous assessment, said they had symptoms of the disease, said medical officials.
Daegu and Cheongdo on Friday became “special management areas,” according to the South Korean government.
For its part, the command of the garrison of the American army installed in the city – which represents a total of about 10,000 people – has restricted its access.