South Korea says the number of new coronavirus cases in the country has more than doubled in one day.
Officials said on Saturday, February 22, 2020 that 229 new cases including nine hospital staff had been confirmed since Friday, February 21, 2020 raising the total to 433.
In a televised address, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun described the situation as grave.
Many of the new cases are linked to a hospital and to a religious group near the South-Eastern city of Daegu.
Daegu and nearby Cheongdo – where the hospital is situated – have been declared special care zones and the streets of Daegu are reported to be largely abandoned.
South Korea has now reported the largest number of confirmed infections after China – 76,288 cases including 2,345 deaths – and the outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship off the coast of Japan which has seen more than 600 cases.
The Head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has expressed concern at the number of new cases with no clear link to China or other confirmed cases.
Adhanom said the greatest concern now is with countries with weaker health systems, particularly in Africa.