South Korea has reported another huge jump in cases of coronavirus as the country fights to contain the spread of the deadly disease.

The number of infections has increased by 142 to 346, officials said on Saturday, with most of the cases in the city of Daegu two hours south of Seoul and the surrounding region.

A 61-year-old woman in Daegu is believed to be at the heart of the rapid spread and is thought to have passed the infection to dozens of fellow worshippers at the controversial Shincheonji Church of Jesus.

Of the new cases, 91 have been traced to a hospital in Cheongdo county, which was designated as one of the “special care zones” by the government.

Cases in South Korea have risen eleven times since she was confirmed as the 31st case on Tuesday.

Daegu’s authorities have closed public buildings, silencing its usually busy streets. Troops at South KJorean and US military bases have been confined to barracks.

In China, the national health commission said on Saturday that there were 397 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections on Friday, down from 889 cases a day earlier.

That brings the total accumulated number of confirmed cases in mainland China so far to 76,288.

The death toll from the outbreak in mainland China had reached 2,345 as of the end of Friday.

The central province of Hubei, the epicentre of the outbreak, reported 109 new deaths, while in the provincial capital of Wuhan, 90 people died.

As the World Health Organization warned on Friday that the window of opportunity to stop the spread of the virus was narrowing, it appeared to be spreading more widely across the world. Four people have now died from the virus in Iran and Italy recorded its first fatal case on Friday night.

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In Australia, six people evacuated back to Darwin from the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan have tested positive to Covid-19. Another three people who have developed symptoms were being tested on Saturday.

There were 170 Australians on the evacuation flight and all were checked for symptoms before leaving Yokohama, where they had been kept on the ship.



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