See More on Facebook

South Korea declares third city as special care zone as cases spike

President Moon receives letter of support from North Korean leader as infected cases cross 6,000.


Written by

Updated: March 6, 2020

South Korea has declared a third city a “special care zone” to boost its capability to fight a spike in coronavirus infections, with cases nationwide soaring beyond 6,000.

The death toll stands at 42, mostly the elderly with underlying health conditions, while 88 people have recovered, including 47 discharged yesterday.

The care zone announcement came as the presidential Blue House revealed that South Korean President Moon Jae-in received a letter on Wednesday from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressing support and comfort to the people battling the coronavirus outbreak, adding that he is confident they will “prevail in this fight without fail”.

Mr Kim also underscored his “unwavering friendship and trust” in Mr Moon, adding that he is worried about the President’s health. Mr Moon has conveyed his gratitude in a letter.

The Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reported 467 new cases yesterday, bringing the total to 6,088.

South-eastern city Gyeongsan, home to about 275,000 people, was designated the third special care zone yesterday due to a spike in infections. There are now more than 340 cases there, including a cluster outbreak at a nursing home.

Nearby Daegu, which has over 4,300 cases – with most linked to the secretive Shincheonji Church of Jesus – and Cheongdo, with more than 110 cases, were named special care zones on Feb 21.

This means they will get military medical assistance, temporary quarantine facilities and medical resources and supplies.

Even so, more than 2,000 patients in Daegu are still waiting to be admitted as hospitals have run out of beds. Officials said most of them exhibit light symptoms.

Vice-Health Minister Kim Gang-lip told a briefing that the number of new infections in Daegu is expected to drop once they complete testing the city’s 10,000 Shincheonji members. After that, they will shift their focus to testing Shincheonji members nationwide and examining small cluster outbreaks not related to the church.

The number of recoveries is also slated to increase, he added, noting that it takes two to eight weeks to treat patients.

Daegu Mayor Kwon Young-jin said yesterday that they are fighting a war every day, but “our citizens are showing surprising wisdom and courage”.

On Twitter, President Moon praised acts of kindness by ordinary citizens to help fight the virus.

He noted how Daegu Medical Centre and Keimyung University Daegu Dongsan Hospital have both been inundated with face masks, beverages and meals donated by residents, how the Community Chest of Korea has received 27 billion won (S$31.5 million) in donations in less than 10 days, how one citizen anonymously sent 30,000 face masks to a community health centre and how guest houses are offering free rooms for medical staff to rest.

“I cannot help but be left in solemn awe upon hearing the news about Daegu citizens taking care of each other in matters that the nation cannot address,” he wrote.

Shincheonji church said yesterday that it has donated 12 billion won to CommChest Korea, as church members “feel responsible for the massive number of infections of the virus” and are doing their best to support government efforts to fight the outbreak.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


About the Author: The Straits Times is Singapore's top-selling newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

China pledges international pandemic aid

 Producers of medical goods urged to meet demand from affected countries. China has pledged to do its best to offer aid to countries and international organisations affected by COVID-19 to help contain the outbreak, and businesses are being urged to boost production of epidemic prevention materials to meet demand from abroad. The announcement was made at a meeting of the leading group of China’s coronavirus response, chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday. Relevant departments and local authorities must step up co-ordination to closely monitor and analyse the quick spread of the outbreak outside China and roll out more targeted measures to prevent the import and export of infection, the group said in a statement. It is important to further


By China Daily
March 13, 2020

Back to work in Beijing, with tough measures in place

 Mandatory quarantine for those coming from overseas; some Wuhan businesses may reopen. As most of China attempts to return to normalcy after an extensive lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the capital Beijing has been carefully trying to strike a balance between having people restart work while also trying to keep out imported infections, and yesterday ordered a mandatory quarantine for all international arrivals. This comes as the Hubei government announced that some businesses in Wuhan, the outbreak’s epicentre, would gradually be allowed to reopen. On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan, his first visit to the city since the outbreak, a sign that the crisis could finally be easing after the government’s toug


By The Straits Times
March 12, 2020

Xi vows victory over coronavirus in Wuhan

President expresses condolences to families of people who died in epidemic. President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday that prevention and control of the novel coronavirus outbreak remains the top priority and most important task, even amid the recent positive signs. Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remark during his inspection tour in the outbreak’s epicentre, Wuhan, capital of Hubei province. The spread of the novel coronavirus has been basically curbed in Hubei and Wuhan, Xi said, adding that initial success has been made in stabilising the situation and turning the tide in Hubei and Wuhan. Xi encouraged local residents and front-line worke


By China Daily
March 11, 2020

China sets example in fighting virus

Epidemic reveals inadequacies in global governance; Beijing says it’s ready to help. China’s response to novel coronavirus pneumonia has set an example for the world in coping with the contagion and offered experience in advancing global public health governance, officials and experts said. The COVID-19 outbreak has also raised the alarm about global public health security and reminded countries that co-operation and co-ordination are needed to deal with challenges as infectious diseases can rapidly escalate into global emergencies, they said. There is a growing positive momentum in epidemic control nationwide thanks to the “comprehensive, thorough and rigorous” measures that China has taken to contain the virus, they said, noting that the daily


By China Daily
March 10, 2020

More than 800,000 people return Beijing under quarantine

“There’s still a risk of an outbreak of the disease with people coming to Beijing from other cities and countries,” Zhang Tongjun, deputy head of a group for prevention and control work in the city’s residential communities, said during an afternoon conference. About 827,000 people who came back to Beijing from outside the city are still in a 14-day quarantine to see if they had been infected with the novel coronavirus, an official said on Friday. “There’s still a risk of an outbreak of the disease with people coming to Beijing from other cities and countries,” Zhang Tongjun, deputy head of a group for prevention and control work in the city’s residential communities, said during an afternoon conference. Z


By China Daily
March 9, 2020

China’s epidemic fight in new stage

Unleash consumption as virus efforts continue at full strength, president says. A key Party meeting on Wednesday presided over by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, stressed the need to unleash consumer demand that has been restrained during the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak and continuing to expand opening-up. The meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee called for integrating efforts in resuming work and production and expanding domestic consumption while boosting new and upgraded consumption models that have emerged from epidemic control and prevention. Measures must be adopted to replenish the availability and encourage the consumption of goods and ser


By China Daily
March 5, 2020