First coronavirus death reported in South Korea as cases jump again

Noh Hong-in an official of the central disaster management headquarters speaks during a press briefing at the government complex in Sejong 130 kilometers south of Seoul on Feb. 19 2020

800 SK hynix workers in self-quarantine over new coronavirus

South Korea now has 104 confirmed cases of the flu-like virus, and reported its first death.

"At this stage, the government judged that COVID-19 is spreading locally with a limited scope", Vice Health and Welfare Minister Kim Kang-lip was quoted as saying by Yonhap News.

The transmission is highly suspected of occurring among members of a church in Daegu, with health authorities saying a woman in her 60s who attends the church is presumed to have infected 28 more people in addition to the 15 others reported Wednesday.

A total of 64 cases have been confirmed in the city and neighbouring North Gyeongsang province, and Daegu mayor Kwon Young-jin urged residents: "Starting from today, please refrain from leaving your house as much as possible".

The woman, called "Patient 31" by Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, developed a fever on February 10 and attended four church services before being diagnosed with COVID-19.

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Jahanpur said all patients were Iranian and the person in the central city of Arak was a doctor from Qom, the semi-official news agency ISNA reported. At least five of the cases have an "epidemiological link" to that same patient, the KCDC said.

"We believe that there were many contacts at the church and we are planning to conduct kit tests for the entire church", said KCDC chief Jung Eun-kyeong in a briefing, according to The Korea Times. He tested positive for the novel virus posthumously after recently experiencing pneumonia-like symptoms, according to The Associated Press.

Most new cases have no clear ties to travel to China, where the virus originated, or Southeast Asian countries, the KCDC said.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Britons stranded on the ship would be able to board an evacuation flight home on Friday, as long as they were not showing symptoms of the virus.

Authorities probed two worship services at the Daegu church, which were held on Feb 9 and 16, and attended by the 31st patient.

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A man wearing a protective face mask walks on the street in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on February 17, 2020. The commission says the number of people infected with the virus across China rose by 394 to 74,576 on Wednesday.

South Korean officials said the government believes the virus has begun spreading locally, indicating the country is entering a new stage in its fight against the virus.

SK hynix said roughly 800 workers at its Icheon campus, about 70 kilometers south of Seoul, have been ordered to put themselves into self-quarantine after it found that one of its new recruits had been in close contact with a novel coronavirus patient in Daegu. The number of cases are expected to increase in the coming days.

Since January 3, the country has tested more than 13,000 people, among whom 11,238 tested negative for the COVID-19 virus and 1,860 were being checked.

U.S. Forces Korea said, "there remains zero confirmed cases of USFK personnel with COVID-19".

South Korea has reported its first death from coronavirus, as officials in one major city urged its 2.5 million residents to avoid going outside as cases spiked.

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