South Korea and China both reported a rise in new virus cases on Sunday, as the South Korean prime minister warned that the fast-spreading outbreak linked to a local church and a hospital in the country’s southeast had entered a “more grave stage.”
The death toll in Iran climbed to six, the highest outside China, and a dozen towns in northern Italy effectively went into lockdown as authorities tested hundreds of people who came into contact with an estimated 79 confirmed cases there. Two people have died in Italy.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that 113 of the 120 new cases were reported in the fourth-largest city of Daegu and surrounding areas. The agency said 70 of them are linked to a branch of the Shincheonji church in Daegu, which has become the biggest cluster of viral infections in the country, which now has a total of 556 cases.
Mainland China reported 648 new infections for a total of 76,936. The daily death toll fell slightly to 97. In all, 2,442 people have died in the country from COVID-19.
The number of new Chinese cases has seesawed daily but remained under 1,000 for the past four days. Several changes to how the infections are counted, however, have made it difficult to draw conclusions from the figures.
The central Chinese city of Wuhan and other parts of Hubei province, where the outbreak first emerged in December, remain under lockdown. More than 80 per cent of the country’s cases are in Hubei, where the death toll has also been higher than in the rest of the nation.
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