South Korea urged citizens on Saturday to stay indoors as it warned of a “critical moment” in its battle against the coronavirus after recording the biggest daily jump in infections, with 594 new cases taking the tally to 2,931.
South Korea is grappling with the largest outbreak of the virus outside China, as a new death took the toll to 17, amid a record daily increase in infections since the country confirmed its first patient on January 20.
In China – the epicentre of the deadly disease – the National Health Commission reported on Saturday at least 47 new coronavirus deaths, bringing to 2,835 the number of fatalities nationwide.
There were also 427 new infections, up from 327 the previous day, pushing the confirmed cases in mainland China so far to 79,251, and more than 83,000 worldwide.
Meanwhile, the US State Department raised its alert level for Italy, warning Americans to reconsider travel due to the outbreak.
Italy has reported 650 coronavirus cases and 17 deaths, the most in Europe.
As this developed, the US states of California and Oregon reported two new cases of infection from unknown origins.
On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) had warned that the spread of the virus is “getting bigger”.
Japan’s government plans to create a fund to help companies pay subsidies to workers who need to take days off to look after their children while schools are closed, the Nikkei business daily reported on Saturday, without citing sources. The move comes after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday asked local authorities to shut schools from Monday in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus. This means students will be out from Monday at least until the new academic year starts in early April, prompting Japanese parents, along with teachers and businesses, to scramble to find new ways to cope. Infections from the virus in Japan have topped 200, with five deaths – including one on Friday of a man in his 70s. That excludes more than 700 infections and five more deaths from the quarantined cruise liner Diamond Princess, docked in Yokohama.