Mainland China reported a rise in new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Thursday, reversing three straight days of declines, because of a spike in new infections in Wuhan, the city at the centre of the outbreak.
Mainland China had 139 new confirmed cases as of Wednesday, the National Health Commission (NHC) said, bringing the total accumulated number of cases to 80,409. Authorities reported 119 new cases the previous day and 125 the day before that.
The increase was driven by more cases in Wuhan, the provincial capital of Hubei, where the virus is believed to have emerged in a market late last year.
Wuhan’s new infections climbed to 131 from 114 a day earlier. There was no immediate elaboration and health officials were due to hold a briefing later in the day.
The number of new confirmed cases in Hubei, excluding Wuhan, has remained in single digits for seven consecutive days, with three new infections recorded on Wednesday.
South Korea declared a “special care zone” on Thursday around a second city hit hard by the coronavirus and the U.S. military confirmed two new cases among relatives of its troops in the country, which is battling the biggest epidemic outside China.
The South Korean government declared a “special care zone” around Gyeongsan, a city of about 275,000 people 250 kms (150 miles) southeast of Seoul, promising extra resources such as face masks and warning people from traveling there.
Gyeongsan has seen a spike in new cases, including at a nursing home. Similar zones have been declared around neighbouring Daegu city and Cheongdo County.
Around 75% of all cases in South Korea are in and around Daegu, the country’s fourth-largest city, where the flu-like virus that emerged from China late last year has spread rapidly through members of a religious group.
“Everyday is sad and tough like a war. But our Daegu citizens are showing surprise wisdom and courage,” Daegu Mayor Kwon Young-jin told reporters on Thursday.
Officials said hospitals in the hardest hit areas were struggling to accommodate new patients. Daegu city officials said 2,117 patients were waiting for rooms in the city.
Dozens of newly commissioned military nurses were due to begin work in Daegu on Thursday, the health ministry said.
The Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reported three more deaths from the virus, bringing the total in the country to 35.