Public panic has deepened in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, with at least 15 people from the areas confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 on Wednesday.
The Daegu Metropolitan Government said it will track down some 1,000 people who attended the same church service as the country’s 31st patient, who may have been a “superspreader,” and test them for the coronavirus.
Daegu Mayor Kwon Young-jin said at a briefing that the city will mobilize all resources available -- from public servants to disaster management funds -- under an emergency response system, to prevent the spread of the virus in its community.
He asked for financial and administrative help from the central government as the city lacks medical personnel and hospital rooms to accommodate those infected.
The Daegu Metropolitan Office of Education is reviewing delaying the start of the spring semester for elementary, middle and high schools. It has banned orientation events for freshmen at middle and high schools.
One kindergarten was closed in Daegu as of 5 p.m. Thursday, according to the Education Ministry. The number is expected to grow, as education authorities have allowed schools near routes where confirmed patients moved around to decide whether to shut down at their own discretion.
“2020 Daegu Super Concert” featuring boy band BTS, set to be held at Daegu Stadium on March 8 and hosted by public broadcaster SBS, was postponed.
Four out of five emergency units at university hospitals in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, where confirmed patients visited, were shut down.
A lockdown of the city is not being reviewed, the central government said Wednesday, stressing the situation is not out of control.
Some 147 public facilities -- including eight hospitals -- and restaurants in Yeongcheon in North Gyeongsang Province, were also closed. Three people confirmed to be infected with the virus were from the city.
A 61-year-old South Korean woman, who resides in Daegu, was confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus Tuesday.
On Wednesday, at least 15 more people linked to the woman, the country’s 31st patient, tested positive for the virus. Among them, 14 attended the same church service as her and one person came into contact with her at a hospital in Daegu, according to health authorities.
The nine-story building of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony, in Daegu, was closed, with the church’s services and gatherings across the country suspended.
The 31st patient is believed to have joined the church service on Sunday from 8 a.m. alongside some 400 others. She attended the service on Feb. 9 as well, along with 600 others.
As of Wednesday, there are a total of 51 confirmed cases of the virus in South Korea.