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Seoul strains to stop virus deaths

Seoul (South Korea/ANN)--South Korea continued to mobilise all possible resources to treat coronavirus patients on Wednesday, stung by a series of deaths outside hospitals, as it reported over 500 new cases.
A majority of coronavirus cases reported here have occurred due to community infection, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

South Korean medical doctors on duty.

Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun cautiously expected that the sharp upward trend in the number of cases may see “a slight change in the next two to three days.”
As of midnight Tuesday, the total number of coronavirus cases in Korea stood at 5,328, with the southeastern city of Daegu continuing to account for the lion’s share.
The country had reported 516 more cases and four more deaths as of Wednesday at 12:01 a.m., according to the KCDCP.
Of the new cases, 405 were confirmed in Daegu; 89 in North Gyeongsang Province; seven in Gyeonggi Province; three each in Busan and Ulsan; two each in Incheon and Gwangju; and one each in Seoul, Daejeon, Gangwon Province, South Gyeongsang Province and South Chungcheong Province.
The death toll as of now stands at 32. Seven people had fully recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 41. Community spread in Daegu continued to run rampant. The country’s fourth-largest city had 4,006 citizens with confirmed infections so far.
Once the government began taking an aggressive approach to the testing of more than 210,000 members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus -- the country’s biggest cluster of infections the city reported over 500 cases a day for three consecutive days until Monday.
All four additional deaths aged between 70 and 80 occurred in Daegu.
The fatality rate stands at 0.6 percent for all age groups, 4.6 percent for those in their 70s and 5.6 percent for those aged 80 or over.
After the government announced the death toll in the morning, Daegu reported another death of a 67-year-old woman who had been on respirators after tested positive on February 25. She did not have an underlying disease, according to health authorities.
Six Korean passengers and one Japanese national from the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise have completed their 14-day coronavirus quarantine and were released from a medical center in Incheon.
Health authorities have started running makeshift treatment centers, set up at nonmedical facilities, for patients with mild symptoms while seeking to reserve hospital beds for elderly patients and those with underlying diseases.
On Wednesday, some 210 patients will be admitted to the Samsung Electronics Leadership Center in Youngdeok, North Gyeongsang Province. Including the center, the authorities have secured six facilities with the capacity to accommodate 1,189 people in total. The government will submit a 11.7 trillion won (US$9.85 billion) supplementary budget bill, the fourth-largest of its kind in the country’s history, for parliament approval on Thursday to fight against the coronavirus and offset its economic impact.
The funding package is designed to cover the costs for negative pressure wards and ambulances, diagnostics and related equipment. It will be used to compensate medical institutes that suffer financial losses in aftermath of the government’s preventive measures such as shutdown. The proposal will also support those in hospitalisation and isolation as well as those run mom-and-pop stores and small and medium-sized enterprises hit by the outbreak of COVID-19.
On Wednesday, the government said it plans to distribute guidelines for operation of drive-through testing stations to local governments. The system enables drivers and passengers undergo the entire testing procedures in minutes, which will reduce the potential of virus exposure compared to hospital visits.
An application with Global Positioning System that sends notifications when people in self-quarantine leave their designated space will be launched this week.
Authorities will start using the app on Saturday for the people in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province first where infection cases are concentrated.
There were some 27,700 people in self-isolation across the country as of Sunday.

(Latest Update March 5, 2020

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