South Korea reports first coronavirus death; millions told to stay at home

South Korea reports first coronavirus death; millions told to stay at home
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One person has died in South Korea from the new deadly form of coronavirus, health officials said Thursday, marking the first death from the disease in that country.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that a 63-year-old man who died in a hospital was posthumously confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus, while 22 new cases mean the total has risen to 104 in the country, according to The Associated Press.

Twenty-one of the new cases were in the South Korean city of Daegu, whose mayor urged citizens to remain indoors as the city deals with a minor outbreak apparently linked to a church congregation.

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“National quarantine efforts that are currently focused on blocking the inflow of the virus [from China] and stemming its spread are inadequate for preventing the illness from circulating in local communities,” Daegu Mayor Kwon Young-jin said at a press conference, according to the AP.

As many as 49 new cases over the last two days were reportedly linked to one member of the church congregation who did not travel overseas but is believed to have contracted the disease from someone who did and continued attending church while suffering from cold symptoms, according to the AP.

“We are seeing infections in some areas like Seoul and Daegu where it’s difficult to confirm the cause or routes of the infections,” Korea's vice health minister, Kim Gang-lip, told the AP.

A spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO) told Reuters that it was monitoring the minor outbreak in Daegu, and was in contact with local authorities.

“WHO is in close communication with the Government of the Republic of Korea responding to a cluster of COVID-19 cases that have been confirmed in the area of Daegu,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told the news service.

The total number of infected persons rose to just more than 75,000 this week as more than 2,000 people have died from the disease, mostly in China where it is thought to have originated.