TOKYO, Feb 24 (KUNA) -- South Korea reported its seventh fatality from the new coronavirus and 161 new confirmed cases on Monday, bringing the total infections here to 763, Yonhap News Agency reported.
The southwestern city of Daegu, where 2.5 million people are asked to stay indoors, saw its confirmed cases jump by 131 to 457 on Monday morning, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement.
"If authorities fail to contain the spread of the COVID-19 in Daegu, there is a high possibility that COVID-19 could spread nationwide," Vice Health and Welfare Minister Kim Gang-lip was quoted as telling reporters in Seoul. To beef up the first line of defense, authorities will swiftly find patients with mild symptoms and isolate them," Kim said.
Two clusters of infections -- at a branch of a religious sect in Daegu and a hospital in its neighboring county of Cheongdo -- have continued to rise sharply, taking up more than half of the total cases in the country. Of the seven deaths, five have been linked to the Cheongdo hospital.
Of the 161 new cases, 142 are in Daegu, 300km southeast of Seoul, and neighboring North Gyeongsang Province. Another three were reported in Seoul, the center said. The number of cases that can be traced to the church services reached 458, accounting for about 60 percent of the total cases here.
Authorities said they have acquired a list of members from the Daegu-based Shincheonji church and are closely monitoring them. South Korea confirmed its first new coronavirus case from a Chinese woman from Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak, on January 20. (end)