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S.Korea declares coronavirus "red alert"

Video credit: Reuters Studio
Published on February 23, 2020 - Duration: 01:41s

S.Korea declares coronavirus "red alert"

South Korea raised its infectious disease alert to its highest level on Sunday as confirmed coronavirus cases in the country jumped to 602 and the death toll rose to six.

Ciara Lee reports

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S.Korea declares coronavirus "red alert"

Churches in South Korea were on high alert on Sunday (February 23) as the number of coronavirus cases in the country jumped to 602.

More than half of new cases have been linked to the Shincheonji church after a 61-year-old woman known as "Patient 31" tested positive for the virus last week.

The church in the city of Daegu has said it will fully cooperate with health authorities.

The South Korean president raised the country's infectious disease alert to the top level - as the death toll in the country reached six - enabling it to forcibly prevent public activities, and order the temporary closure of schools.

(SOUNDBITE) (Korean) SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT MOON JAE-IN SAYING: "Following the advice of infectious disease experts, the government will vastly strengthen the overall response system by raising the alert level to the highest level.

The situation has become completely different since the outbreak of mass infection within the Shincheonji group." In China, there were reports of another fall in new cases outside the epicenter of the outbreak but world health officials warned that it is too early to make predictions about the outbreak as new infections increased elsewhere.

Italy on Sunday scrambled to contain the biggest outbreak of the virus in Europe - cases there jumped to over 100.

The government has shut off the worst affected towns in the north of the country and canceled a string of public events, after the first two deaths from the disease were recorded in the wealthy regions of Lombardy and Veneto.

Two people contracted the virus in Venice, which is packed with tourists for the annual carnival; authorities announced they will cancel the final two days of the carnival.

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