South Korean soldiers spray disinfectants inside an apartment complex under cohort isolation after mass infection of Covid-19, Daegu, South Korea, March 9 2020. Picutre: REUTERS/KIM KYUNG-HOON.
South Korean soldiers spray disinfectants inside an apartment complex under cohort isolation after mass infection of Covid-19, Daegu, South Korea, March 9 2020. Picutre: REUTERS/KIM KYUNG-HOON.

Seoul — South Korea, which has one of the world's largest coronavirus totals outside China, reported its smallest daily rise in cases for two weeks on Monday.

A total of 248 cases were confirmed on Sunday, the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.

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 — 96 on Monday, taking the total to 7,478.

The 248 figure for Sunday as a whole was the third consecutive daily fall and was the lowest for any single day since late February.

“The slowing trend should continue,” President Moon Jae-in told aides, his office said in a statement, but warned: “We should not be complacent at all.”

The South was the first country to report significant coronavirus numbers outside China, where the disease first emerged.

But in recent days the focus of global concern has been moving towards Italy and Iran. A quarter of Italy's population was locked down Sunday as Rome announced infections soaring past 7,000 and deaths spiking to 366.

The South has had 51 deaths, according to KCDC. Specialists say a key factor behind the South's much lower fatality rate from the virus relates to the profile of people being infected — nearly half the country's infections are in people aged below 40 years.

And most of the South's cases are connected to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a secretive religious group often condemned as a cult, most of whose members are women.

But global figures show the virus is most deadly among older population groups, and in men in particular.

“We have a large number of infections involving people aged in their 20s and 30s because of the Shincheonji factor,” said Kim Dong-hyun, president of the Korea Society of Epidemiology.

“With these groups in the calculation, it leads to low death rates.”

Scores of events in the South — 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.

Hundreds of churches held online services on Sunday.

AFP

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments?
Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.