Coronavirus: South Korea Says COVID-19 Cases Doubled In 24 Hours

A man adjusts a boy’s protective face mask as they try to avoid contracting a new coronavirus in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday. The country is reporting a spike in COVID-19 cases, predominantly in its south.

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A man adjusts a boy’s protective face mask as they try to avoid contracting a new coronavirus in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday. The country is reporting a spike in COVID-19 cases, predominantly in its south.

Heo Ran/Reuters

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Korea has doubled in just 24 hours, from 51 to 104, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. Many of the new cases are linked to a Christian sect in Daegu, a city in southern South Korea.

Korea’s CDC says a woman who became the country’s 31st confirmed coronavirus patient on Feb. 18 had attended services held by a religious group called the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, The Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony.

The woman, who was born in 1959, had visited Wuhan, China, the KCDC says. It adds that she was reported to have 1,160 contacts – by far the most of anyone on its list of patients.

“The church has shut down” because of the outbreak, NPR’s Anthony Kuhn reports from Seoul. He adds, “Daegu has closed some public facilities. A U.S. Army garrison in Daegu restricted travel in and out of the base and imposed a quarantine on personnel who had visited the church.”

The same woman also visited Cheongdo Daenam hospital, which has emerged as a second cluster of infections. Patients and staff are being tested for the respiratory virus there, and the hospital is being disinfected, according to the KCDC.

More than 75,000 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed worldwide, according to a disease-tracking dashboard created by the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering.

The virus has killed more than 2,000 people – most of them in China’s Hubei province, the outbreak’s epicenter. Globally, nearly 17,000 people had recovered from the illness as of Thursday afternoon ET.

A Chinese man wears a protective mask as he drives a trike in Beijing, China, Thursday. The novel coronavirus has killed more than 2,000 people – most of them in China’s Hubei province.

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A Chinese man wears a protective mask as he drives a trike in Beijing, China, Thursday. The novel coronavirus has killed more than 2,000 people – most of them in China’s Hubei province.

Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

2 Diamond Princess passengers die after contracting COVID-19

Two Japanese passengers who had been on the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship have died after being infected with the novel coronavirus. Japan’s health ministry says the male and female passengers were hospitalized last week. They were both in their 80s.

The man and woman are the first Diamond Princess passengers to die during the virus outbreak. The cruise ship has been under a quarantine at Yokohama’s port near Tokyo since Feb. 3.

A bus carrying passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship is escorted as it leaves the terminal in Yokohama, Japan, on Thursday. Two people who were recently taken off the ship have died after contracting COVID-19.

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A bus carrying passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship is escorted as it leaves the terminal in Yokohama, Japan, on Thursday. Two people who were recently taken off the ship have died after contracting COVID-19.

Eugene Hoshiko/AP

Both of the passengers died about a week after tests confirmed they were infected with the respiratory virus. The male passenger was from Kanagawa prefecture and the female passenger was from Tokyo, the health ministry said. It added that while the man died from the coronavirus illness, known as COVID-19, the woman died from pneumonia.

A total of 634 people from the Diamond Princess have tested positive for COVID-19, the Japanese agency said. More than half that number are identified as “asymptomatic pathogen carriers,” meaning that while they don’t show signs of the illness, they can still transmit the disease to others or become sick themselves.

The deaths were reported as the shipwide 14-day quarantine expires and as the governments of Hong Kong, Australia, Israel, Canada and other countries work to repatriate their citizens. Like the Americans who recently arrived in the U.S., those passengers face new quarantines back home.

When passengers test positive for the novel coronavirus, they’re taken off the Diamond Princess and sent to local hospitals. Those diagnoses also reset the 14-day quarantine period for their traveling partners and close contacts.

About 3,700 passengers and crew were aboard the ship when it initially arrived at the Yokohama terminal. That number is now dropping by the hundreds