South Korea reports fewer than 150 new coronavirus cases

By: AFP      Published: 11:54 AM, 10 Mar, 2020
South Korea reports fewer than 150 new coronavirus cases

South Korea, one of the worst-affected countries in the coronavirus epidemic outside China, on Tuesday reported fewer than 150 new cases for the first time in two weeks.

A total of 131 infections were confirmed on Monday, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.

Three more people died, it added, taking the death toll to 54.

The rise in infections took its total to 7,513. Each morning, the South announces how many cases were diagnosed the previous day, and gives an update every afternoon with the current day's figures so far.

Monday's figure marked the fourth consecutive daily fall and was the lowest for a single day since late February.

"The number of new COVID-19 cases has been declining, so we can assess the rate of increase is coming to a standstill," said Yoon Tae-ho at the Central Disaster Management Headquarters. But the outbreak was still spreading, he added, warning against any relaxation of containment efforts.

The Korea Baseball Organisation said Tuesday it will postpone the March 28 start of the season to "sometime in April", joining several other sports leagues that have suspended play over the virus.

The emergency board meeting decision was taken "in consideration of the safety and health of the fans and players", the KBO said in a statement.

Scores of events -- from K-pop concerts to sports matches -- have been cancelled or postponed over the contagion, with school and kindergarten breaks extended by three weeks nationwide.

The South was the first country to report significant coronavirus numbers outside China, where the disease first emerged, although the focus of global concern has been moving towards Italy and Iran in recent days.

Authorities say the risk of small cluster infections continues and the public have been urged to refrain from group events such as protests or religious services.

More than 60 percent of the country's cases are linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a religious sect often condemned as a cult.

One of its members attended at least four services before being diagnosed.