SEOUL – South Korea reported 15 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday — increasing its total by nearly 50 percent — including a cluster of at least 11 centered in the southern city of Daegu.
The trade-dependent South has been hit by the economic fallout from the virus outbreak in neighboring China, but until Wednesday’s jump, its own case numbers had hardly changed for several days.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said in a statement that 15 new coronavirus cases had been confirmed, raising its total from 31 to 46.
Of those, 13 were in Daegu and neighboring North Gyeongsang province, with 11 of them believed to be linked to a single patient, a 61-year-old woman.
Ten of them attend the same church as the woman, the KCDC said.
She had first developed a fever on Feb. 10 but reportedly refused to be tested for coronavirus on the grounds she had not recently traveled abroad.
She was not put into quarantine until a week later and was confirmed as the country’s 31st case on Tuesday.
Seoul has blocked entry to foreigners coming from Hubei, the Chinese province that is the epicenter of the outbreak, and suspended visa-free entry to the island of Jeju, popular with Chinese tourists, but has not imposed a general ban on arrivals from China.