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Seoul, February 29, 2020
South Korea on Saturday warned a large number of coronavirus cases will be reported in Daegu, the epicentre of the country's virus outbreak, as the total number of infections rose to 2,931, with 17 fatalities.
On Saturday, the country reported 594 new cases of which 476 were in Daegu, 300 km southeast of Seoul, and 60 in neighbouring North Gyeongsang province, Yonhap News Agency quoted the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) as saying.
The sharp increase in cases in Daegu, the country's fourth-largest city with a population of 2.5 million, came as authorities began intensive tests on followers of the Shincheonji church.
Many more confirmed virus cases were expected in the coming days as health authorities have begun testing more than 210,000 Shincheonji followers.
South Korea's health authorities have so far surveyed 88 per cent of the followers of the church, with around 2 per cent of them showing symptoms of the novel virus.
The KCDC said it has collected samples from 3,381 church members who showed symptoms of COVID-19 infection.
"The proportion of confirmed cases among Shincheonji followers is very high, and over the next few days, the number of new cases in Daegu will run high till virus tests on the church followers are completed," Yonhap News Agency quoted Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip as saying at a briefing here.
South Korea confirmed its first new coronavirus case in a Chinese woman from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, on January 20.