Photo: Yonhap News
The southwestern city of Gwangju is emerging as a new coronavirus hotspot.
City officials say their caseload has jumped by 45 in the last five days, including 22 new infections reported Thursday.
Due to the fast spread of the virus and a rise in secondary and tertiary patients, many of them elderly, Gwangju is now in emergency mode.
Ron Chang has the details.
A cluster of infections at a small Buddhist temple in Gwangju, that began with just six people, has now spread to other parts of the city.
Those who were diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this week after visiting Gwangleug Temple are said to have passed the virus to family members, acquaintances and colleagues at a studio apartment complex, hospitals, a church and at least two senior citizen centers.
Hundreds of residents are rushing to get tested to prevent further spread.
Health authorities are especially concerned as over 60 percent of recently confirmed patients are in their 60s and 70s.
Gwangju has upgraded its social distancing scheme to Level 2 as part of measures to contain the virus.
The central government and other cities have also offered active support.
Daegu, which suffered mass infections during the early stages of the epidemic, has offered some 200 hospital beds.
Gwangju Mayor Lee Yong-seob earlier requested medical support and more personnel to help with coronavirus testing and an expected surge in patients.
Meanwhile, South Jeolla Governor Kim Yung-rok has issued a special order for all provincial counties and cities surrounding Gwangju.
He urged the public to refrain from visiting places where confirmed patients have been, avoid gatherings and taking part in door-to-door business sessions.
Kim also reminded people to wear face masks when using public transportation and self-quarantine if they experience symptoms such as fever or sore throat.
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