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South Korea confirms record number of COVID-19 patients

South Korea reported a record number of coronavirus cases on Wednesday, as opposition lawmakers called for further restrictions against travelers from China. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
South Korea reported a record number of coronavirus cases on Wednesday, as opposition lawmakers called for further restrictions against travelers from China. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 19 (UPI) -- South Korea reported a record number of confirmed patients of the new strain of coronavirus in one day, with the total number of people affected by the epidemic in the country reaching 53 by Wednesday evening local time.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday at a late afternoon press briefing another five people were confirmed for COVID-19, the deadly virus that has claimed more than 2,000 lives in China.

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According to Seoul, a total of 20 new patients were confirmed for the virus on Wednesday. Of that total, 18 patients were infected in central South Korea, in the city of Daegu and outlying North Gyeongbuk Province, Yonhap reported.

A cluster of five people were infected after making contact with Patient No. 31, who may be a "super spreader," according to local press reports.

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Seoul currently conducts two daily press briefings on the coronavirus, in the morning and the afternoon. During the morning briefing, the government had said Patient No. 31 may have infected 10 people, who were confirmed patients Wednesday.

The majority of the people who had contact with Patient No. 31 are affiliated with a church in Daegu. Only one of the 15 people who were infected following contact with Patient No. 31 was a member of hospital staff in the city.

The disease has also spread among people, five in total, who never had contact with Patient No. 31, identified as a 61-year-old South Korean woman.

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South Korea has also discharged 16 patients since the outbreak, citing a "full recovery."

Fears of the epidemic's escalation may be rising in the country, however.

Opposition party politician Hwang Kyo-ahn said in a Facebook post on Wednesday the record number of confirmed patients is a sign the administration of President Moon Jae-in is not doing enough, Newsis reported.

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The government must "further expand restrictions" against travelers from China, the source of the outbreak, Hwang said, who also described Seoul's response as a "failure."

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