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Seventh Korean dies as virus toll spikes to 763

Feb 24,2020
이미지뷰
Workers decontaminate the Seomun Market in Daegu, which was temporarily shut down on Sunday afternoon amid the new coronavirus outbreak. There were 602 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Sunday, of which over half were in Daegu, and six deaths. [YONHAP]
A seventh patient died of the coronavirus as infections once again soared, reaching a total of 763 on Monday morning, 161 more than on Sunday afternoon.

As in the past few days, most of the new infections were traced to the Shincheonji church in Daegu, either adherents of the controversial Christian sect or people who came into contact with them.

Among Korea’s 161 new infections tallied Monday morning, 129 were related to Shincheonji. Of the nation’s total infections of 763, 458 are connected to the religion, or 60 percent, according to statistics from the Korea Central Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

The KCDC reported the sixth and seventh fatalities in a briefing Monday morning, saying both were patients at Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo County, North Gyeongsang, near Daegu, who died Sunday night.

Of the total death toll of seven, five were hospitalized at Daenam before getting the disease.

Local health officials say they still don’t know how the virus first reached the hospital or got into the Shincheonji church community. But Daenam Hospital was where a mourning altar was set up between Jan. 31 and Feb. 2 for the older brother of the Shincheonji church’s leader, Lee Man-hee. Many followers are believed to have attended the service.

The sixth fatality was identified by the KCDC as a 59-year-old man who tested positive last Wednesday at Daenam Hospital, after which he was transferred to Dongguk University Gyeongju Hospital in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang later the same day.

The seventh patient has been identified as a 62-year-old man who was also hospitalized at Daenam.

Further investigations on the two patients are ongoing.

Gimpo officials said Sunday night that a 16-month-old female resident appeared to have contracted the disease from her parents, becoming the youngest coronavirus patient in the nation.

It was the second known time in Korea that a person under the age of 10 was reported infected by the disease, which seems to be prevalent among the middle-aged. The other under-10 patient is a 4-year-old girl in Daegu, who apparently contracted the disease from her daycare center teacher.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]