After China, where the deadly coronavirus originated, South Korea is the worst to have been hit with the disease. On Wednesday, thousands of infected persons waited for hospitals beds in the city of Daegu. The South Korean city is a centre of the worst COVID-19 outbreak outside the mainland.
The total number of infected cases in the country has surged to 5,328, with at least 38 confirmed deaths reported. Majority of the cases are in and around Daegu-- the country’s fourth-largest city where the novel virus spread like wildfire through members of a fringe Christian group.
Health authorities expect the number of infected to only rise in the near future as they complete the testing of more than 200,000 members of the Christian sect, as well as thousands of other suspected cases from smaller clusters.
During a special cabinet meeting, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said, “We need special measures in times of emergency."
“In order to overcome COVID-19 as quickly as possible and minimise the impact on the economy, it is necessary to proactively inject all available resources.”
Amind growing coronavirus cases, South Korea President Moon Jae-in cancelled his planned trip to the UAE, Egypt and Turkey in mid-March.
The hospitals in the country in areas that are worst-hit are struggling to accommodate the surge in new patients. In Daegu, 2,300 people were waiting to be admitted to hospitals and temporary medical facilities, Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said.
Moon on Tuesday declared “war” on the virus, apologised for shortages of face masks and promised support for virus-hit small businesses in the country.