South Korea on highest alert as virus cases rise

South Korea on highest alert as virus cases rise
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South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Sunday that the country would be put on its highest alert level as coronavirus infections there topped 600.

“We shouldn’t be bound by regulations and hesitate to take unprecedented, powerful measures,” Moon said, according to The Associated Press, adding that the outbreak “has reached a crucial watershed.”

South Korea reported 169 new cases of the deadly virus, the AP noted.

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Authorities can now reportedly close schools and restrict public transportation and international flights.

No details on what steps the South Korean government would take were released, Reuters noted.

The mayor of Daegu, South Korea, also said on Sunday that authorities were examining members of the Shincheonji church who had symptoms associated with the virus, according to the AP. More than 300 people in South Korea diagnosed with coronavirus reportedly have ties to the church, which has temporarily shut down, the newswire added.

The State Department on Saturday issued a Level 2 travel advisory for South Korea, urging Americans to exercise increased caution because of the virus.

More than 78,000 people worldwide have been infected by the disease, with the great majority in central China, where officials believe it originated.

In China, 76,936 coronavirus cases and 2,442 deaths have been reported.

Thirty-five cases have been reported in the U.S.