Despite the rising number of COVID-19 patients in South Korea, the World Health Organization expressed confidence in the country’s ability to contain the virus.
"South Korea has reported 104 people as confirmed patients as of Thursday," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, during a briefing on Thursday. "We believe that Korea's public health measures will make the precise management of COVID-19 patients possible."
The WHO hopes that Korea will do everything possible to curb the outbreak early, Ghebreyesus added.
Dr. Oliver Morgan, the director of the Health Emergency Information and Risk Assessment Department in the WHO, also said, "Cases in Korea have occurred in some specific clusters, and although the numbers seem quite large, most are linked. Epidemiologically, it is not a signal of special change worldwide."
Korean health authorities are closely and strongly tracking new diagnoses and their infections, Morgan added.
Korea witnessed the number of COVID-19 patients increase to 156 on Friday, including one fatality.
The government designated the two southeastern cities of Daegu and Cheongdo as "special management zones" Friday. Concerns about the possibility of a community spread have mounted in Daegu, which is the nation's fourth-largest city and home to 2.4 million people. The city officials have also asked inhabitants to stay indoors.
Neighboring countries have also started to take notice of the rising number of COVID-19 patients in Korea.
Taiwan on Thursday became the first nation to publicly announce that it has issued a basic Level 1 travel alert for South Korea, advising travelers from Taiwan to exercise standard precautions while in the country.
"The travel advisory was issued in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus after South Korea confirmed its first death from the disease and a sharp increase in new cases," Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center director Chen Shih-chung was quoted as saying by the Focus Taiwan, a Taiwanese English media outlet.
According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many other countries have also issued travel alerts and have cautioned their citizens while traveling in Korea.
"We do not have a detailed list of which countries have issued a travel alert against Korea," KCDC Director Jung Eun-kyeong said during a daily briefing. "While Taiwan has issued a travel alert, actions taken by countries differ as the number of COVID-19 patients is increasing in Korea, Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong."
Korea has also been expanding its travel advisory to various Asian countries. As of Friday, Seoul has issued a travel refrain to China, including Hong Kong and Macao, and travel advisory to six other countries – Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan.
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