The outbreak in South Korea appears to have sprung from the funeral of a member of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus religious sect earlier this month.
Rome – South Korea has become the third largest hotbed of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, recording 204 cases as of Friday afternoon.
The peninsular country trails China, where authorities reported over 74,000 cases as of Thursday, and a cruise ship anchored off Japan, where over 600 tested positive for the disease.
While news from China, where the number of new cases each day is slowing, gives hope, other countries are reporting ballooning numbers.
The outbreak in South Korea appears to have sprung from a funeral for a member of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus religious sect earlier this month, the BBC reports. Hundreds of followers of the sect have symptoms of COVID-19. South Korea asked people belonging to the religious group to quarantine themselves to help contain the outbreak.
On Friday, the country reported its second death from the disease.
Egypt became the first African country to report a case of COVID-19 on February 14.
World Health Organization Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus has noted that the WHO is particularly concerned about the spread of the disease to Africa because of its “weaker health systems.” The WHO is working “to prepare African countries for the potential arrival of the virus,” he said in a press briefing on Thursday, February 20.
Since the epidemic began in late 2019 in the city of Wuhan in eastern China, over 2,100 people have died of COVID-19 in China.
At the WHO press briefing on Thursday, Ghebreyesus announced the disease has spread to 26 countries, where there have been over 1,000 total cases and just a handful of deaths.
One of the new countries to report cases is Iran, where authorities reported 18 cases on Friday and four deaths, stemming from the city of Qom.
A woman traveling from Qom tested positively for COVID-19 in Lebanon, becoming the country’s first case, the health minister announced on Friday.
The WHO declared the novel coronavirus a global health emergency on January 30. In the weeks since, Director-General Ghebreyesus has repeatedly said the world now has a “window of opportunity” to deal with the disease before it spreads further.