The number of COVID-19 cases in South Korea has surged to 4,812, with 28 deaths reported so far, as the government struggles to prevent further fatalities amid hospital overcrowding.
The country reported 600 more cases and six additional deaths as of midnight Monday, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Of the new cases, 519 were confirmed in Daegu (86.5 percent), 61 in North Gyeongsang Province (10 percent), 7 in Seoul 1.6 percent), 3 in South Chungcheong Province (0.5 percent), 2 each in Busan, Gwangju and Gyeonggi Province. (0.3 percent)
Of the country’s total, 3,600 are concentrated in Daegu and 685 in North Gyeongsang Province, accounting for 89 percent of the total.
The latest fatality is a 78-year old woman from Daegu. She had pre-existing conditions including stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure.
The data is based on the number of patients and fatalities tallied at midnight Tuesday.
Excepting confirmed patients, testing has been carried out on 121,039 people. 85,484 people have tested negative for the virus, and 35,555 are waiting for the results.
A total of 29 people died from the coronavirus, with most cases being in their 50s or over with preexisting illnesses. The fatality rate stands at 0.6 percent for all age groups, 4 percent for those in their 70s and 5.4 percent for those aged 80 or over.
Some 34 patients have so far released from quarantine after making full recoveries.
The number of coronavirus cases is expected to soar in the coming days with testing of more than 210,000 members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus -- the country’s biggest cluster of infections -- still underway. Nearly half the testing for the members was done as of Monday.
Starting Monday, the government began to categorize confirmed patients in four groups according to their condition and transfer those with mild symptoms to designated state-run facilities for quarantine and treatment.
This comes as part of efforts to secure more room for high-risk patients at hospitals’ intensive care wards, as the country saw several patients die while waiting to be hospitalized.
Daegu, in particular, has suffered from a shortage of hospital beds and medical personnel as most of the new virus cases are traced to the Shincheonji branch in the city.
More than 80 percent of the country’s cases show no severe symptoms and are expected to be fully cured, the KCDC director Jeong Eun-kyeong said at a briefing Monday.
Amid coronavirus fears, some 82 countries and regions are imposing travel warnings on Korea or entry bans or toughened quarantine procedures on visitors from Korea.
By Ock Hyun-ju (firstname.lastname@example.org