[Need to Know: Korea] Covid-19 Outbreak Update / March 4, 2020

This is “Need to Know: Korea” and our special outbreak update. I’m Anthony Spaeth, editor in chief of the Korea JoongAng Daily. And I’m Lee Sung-eun, a reporter on the National Desk. We are in Week Seven of Korea’s coronavirus crisis, Day 44, and the news today is Not bad The number of infections continues to grow, but at a markedly smaller rate than
the previous few days. Sung-eun, tell us about that rate. There were 435 new infections reported today,
and that brings us total to 5,621. Now, that seems like a high number, but it’s actually way lower than yesterday’s 851
new infections, or the day before, which was 599. The mayor of Daegu, where most of
these infections are coming from, said earlier today in a press conference that, this week will be “a very crucial moment
to curb the upward trend.” In terms of fatalities, two more people died today, bringing the number total to 33 for the entire crisis. The rate is pretty much the same as everyday of the past few weeks, but what are the trends are we seeing? Both were senior citizens in Daegu like yesterday, and one had underlying illnesses including diabetes, but the second fatality, 67 year old woman, did not have any underlying illnesses, which sets her apart from most other
coronavirus patients who died in Korea. Now as we mentioned yesterday, The silver lining continues to be this
concentration of the infections in one city and surrounding province, Daegu and North Gyeongsang Tell us how that is continuing. That’s right In Seoul, 99 patients were counted
by 10 a.m. on Wednesday, that’s one more than the total number
counted by Tuesday 10 a.m. So the concentration is in
another part of the country. But the concentration is not just regional
concentration, it is also the infections and disease seems to be very much tightly focused on
one group of people who belong to this conservative religion, Shincheonji. What figures do we have for that? Daegu officials are in the process of testing 10,914 Shincheonji members and so-called trainees, and by Wednesday morning, 7,913 had been tested. Of that figure, 5,715 had received their results and 3,168 which is about 55.4 percent, tested positive. And tests for the remainder are still ongoing, but officials expect the infection rate of Shincheonji members to actually drop because they started testing Shincheonji adherents
who reported symptoms of the virus But still that’s dropping from 55 percent of the
Shincheonji members who were tested, which is a high percentage. And as you point out in tomorrow’s story, out of the 4,006 coronavirus patients in Daegu
counted by the KCDC by Tuesday midnight, 3,168 are believed to be Shincheonji believers and that’s 79 percent of the
coronavirus patients in that city. So that’s a very big concentration. In other disease news today, a volunteer group in Jincheon County,
North Chungcheong, is making free face masks for people in need, particularly the elderly people in the area. They are giving them one mask and
ten replaceable filters. That is your daily briefing on the corona crisis in Korea for March 4, 2020.

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