South Korea ups emergency response as viral cases surge
On Friday, South Korea reported more virus cases that prompted a larger response, the creation of a “special management zone” around the southeastern city of Daegu in which the epidemic threatens to overwhelm the region’s health system. Health officials reported 52 new cases of the illness, raising the country’s overall total to 156 since Wednesday. In Seoul, officials have banned rallies and gatherings as well as shut down a major city park. Workers in protective gear also sprayed disinfectant solution throughout the city’s subway.
Health officials now fear that due to the rise in infections in Daegu, the coronavirus will begin to spread rapidly around the country if necessary precautions are not enacted. The first two cases confirmed in South Korea were members of the600,000 person military, and both officers had visited the city of Daegu recently. Prime Minister Chung Se-Kyun stated in a televised statement that the central government is focusing its support on the southeastern region where there is a shortage of sickbeds, medical personnel, and equipment. Chung stated that while efforts up until now have been focused on blocking the coronavirus, they will now shift their attention to preventing its spread.