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South Korea reports more than 800 new cases of COVID-19

South Korea reports more than 800 new cases of COVID-19
A hospital worker in a biohazard suit checks his phone at Daegu Medical Center in South Korea on February 21. Photo by Thomas Maresca/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 29 (UPI) -- South Korea reported 813 new cases of the new type of coronavirus Saturday, bringing its total to 3,150, the largest coronavirus outbreak outside China with more than 85,000 cases worldwide.

South Korean officials warned of a sharp rise in confirmed cases as they have aggressively been testing thousands of people, especially in the southeastern city of Daegu, where the Shincheonji Church of Jesus has a strong presence. The church's secretive religious sect has been at the center of the outbreak.

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More than 86 percent of COVID-19 patients in South Korea have been in Daegu and nearby towns.

According to a tracker maintained by John Hopkins University, South Korea now has the largest number of confirmed cases outside China. There are more than 79,000 cases in mainland China.

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The outbreak has hit China's economy with the country reporting its lowest manufacturing numbers on record for the month February, The Washington Post reported.

North Korea has not reported any COVID-19 cases. It closed its 930-mile border with China, suspended all flights and trains to and from China and asked all foreign diplomats not to leave their compounds. Various units in Sinuji, the capital of the North Pyongan province, which borders Dandong, China, are also carrying out efforts to block the spread, the Korean Central News Agency reported.

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Italy has the third largest number of COVID-19 cases, followed by 705 cases from the Diamond Princess Cruise ship, which was quarantined in Japan, 388 cases in Iran and 234 cases in Japan.

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By comparison, the United Kingdom has 20 cases with 18 in England and one each in Northern Ireland and Wales, but authorities confirmed Friday the first case of local transmission of COVID-19.

"The virus was passed in the U.K.," England's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said in a statement. "It is not yet clear whether they contracted it directly or indirectly from an individual who had recently returned from abroad. This is being investigated and contact tracing has begun."

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