While China continues to deal with the spreading Wuhan coronavirus and remain tight-lipped about just how bad it’s getting, the outbreak has begun to spread rapidly in South Korea.
On Saturday, South Korean health officials reported 229 new confirmed cases of the sickness, doubling the number of infections to 433 in a single day, Zero Hedge reported. One chart published by the website documents how the number of coronavirus casualties have literally doubled each day for the previous four days, leading experts to believe this may be just the beginning for the country.
Zero Hedge notes that the government in Seoul is concerned:
The country’s prime minister, Chung Sye-kyun, called the situation “grave,” according to The Korea Times, while the country’s Vice Health and Welfare Minister Kim Kang-lip told reporters that “The situation is entering a new phase.” But the high number of confirmed cases is also because the country’s medical industry has high diagnostic capability, according to experts; with the implication that the real number of Chinese cases is orders of magnitude higher than officially disclosed.
Officials acknowledge that it’s still in the “early stage” of dealing with the outbreak, and is cautiously hopeful that the virus can be contained in the Daegu area, which is the country’s fourth-largest city.
In fact, that’s where the initial cluster of cases were discovered, leading to its designation as a “special management zone.”
But the government is already in the process of transferring more medical personnel, primary carry providers, disease experts, and hospital equipment to the region, meaning they expect that cases will grow.
Even more puzzling, however, is that in Daegu, more than half the cases there are among members of a secretive religious sect that often sees members crowding together to worship. In fact, more than 1,250 members of the sect, the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, have reported potential symptoms to health workers, while government officials attempt to locate another 700 members so they can be subjected to virus screening. (Related: UNREAL: Hawaii has tested exactly ZERO people for coronavirus… still waiting for test kits from the CDC.)
“In accordance with law and principles, the government will sternly deal with acts that interfere with quarantine efforts, illegal hoarding of medical goods and acts that spark uneasiness through massive rallies,” said Chung, which would make quashing protests and dissent much easier if doing so can be ‘attributed’ to ‘combating the virus.’
Moreover, executives of Samsung have now shuttered an entire factory after one of its workers tested positive for the virus. Samsung, for the record, just happens to be the world’s largest manufacturer of smart phones.
And yet, there is more to worry about. Overnight Saturday, nearly “all patients at a psychiatric ward of a South Korean hospital tested positive for the coronavirus,” Zero Hedge reports, adding that local news media noted further that members of the secretive religious sect attended a funeral recently in the same complex.
In addition, the two confirmed deaths from coronavirus in South Korea also came from the Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo hospital’s mental health division, according to Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both of those patients were moved out of the psych ward and into a regular hospital setting so they could be treated.
These two clusters of outbreaks now account for about 80 percent of all coronavirus cases in South Korea, and it’s not even clear that the outbreak is anywhere close to being contained.
In fact, it seems pretty obvious that South Korean officials may have been caught off-guard, if not unprepared, for the virus to have leap-frogged into the country from China, even though South Korea is certainly in China’s neighborhood. One might have thought that North Korea, which borders China to its north and engages in cross-border commerce with its lone ally, would have been stricken first.
And that could still happen.
See more news about the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak at Pandemic.news.