Coronavirus: S. Korea, Japan see infection spikes; 2 deaths in Iran
Daegu mayor speaks of an 'unprecedented crisis' as Korea, Japan and Iran report first deaths
SEOUL: South Korea and Japan saw deaths and infection spikes while Iran reported the first deaths in the Middle East.
In South Korea's fourth-largest city Daegu, streets were abandoned yesterday, with residents holed up indoors after dozens of people caught the coronavirus in what the authorities described as a "super-spreading event" at a church.
The deserted shopping malls and cinemas in the city of 2.5 million people became one of the most striking images outside China of an outbreak that international authorities are trying to prevent from spreading into a global pandemic.
Daegu Mayor Kwon Young-jin told residents to stay indoors after 90 people who worshipped at the Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony showed symptoms of infection and dozens of new cases were confirmed.
The church had been attended by a 61-year-old woman who tested positive, known as "Patient 31".
South Korea's Centres for Disease Control and Prevention described the outbreak there as a "super-spreading event".
"We are in an unprecedented crisis," Mr Kwon told reporters, adding that all members of the church would be tested.
"We've asked them to stay at home isolated from their families."
Describing the abandoned streets, resident Kim Geun-woo, 28, said: "It's like someone dropped a bomb in the middle of the city. It looks like a zombie apocalypse."
South Korea now has 104 confirmed cases of the flu-like virus and reported its first death yesterday.
In Japan, two elderly former passengers from the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess died yesterday, authorities said.
The news of the first deaths from the ship came as a further 13 positive tests were revealed, taking the total cases from the vessel to 634 - easily the biggest coronavirus cluster outside mainland China.
The man and woman, both Japanese and in their 80s, were taken off the cruise ship last week and died in hospital.
Excluding the ship, the number of infections in Japan has more than doubled in the past week to 74.
The government is being faulted for being too slow to bar visitors from China and too lax in its quarantine of the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
What appears to be more troubling is that Japan is starting to see a surge in cases in multiple areas across the country - sometimes with little to link the outbreaks, Bloomberg reported.
What has shocked many was an admission by Health Minister Katsunobu Kato on Sunday that Japan had lost track of the route of some of the cases of infection.
In Iran, two people have died after testing positive on Wednesday, the health ministry said yesterday, in the Islamic republic's first cases of the disease and first deaths in the Middle East.
According to YJC news agency, the pair who died were Iranian citizens and residents of the holy city of Qom. Yesterday, three more patients tested positive for the coronavirus.
"Two people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Qom and one person in Arak, bringing the total of confirmed cases to five in Iran," Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said in a tweet. - REUTERS, AFP