S.Korea's COVID-19 cases rise to 7,513, death toll at 54


South Korea was the first country to report significant coronavirus numbers outside China and remains one of the world's worst-affected countries despite being overtaken by both Italy and Iran in declared cases. The first case from the call center, a 56-year-old female, was confirmed as positive on Sunday.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) made a decision to update the data once a day at 10:00 a.m. local time beginning Tuesday, after having announced it twice a day.

"Most of the people who tested positive are workers at a call center in this building".

At least 50 people working at a call centre in Seoul or their relatives have tested positive for the virus, becoming the largest cluster in the capital, KCDC said, with officials urging individuals to maintain social distancing.

The number of confirmed cases has been increasing since Tuesday morning and is expected to rise further in the next few hoursas test results come back for those people who had contact with the confirmed patients. "This is the biggest infection reported in Seoul so far", Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said in a press briefing on Tuesday, according to Yonhap.

Authorities say they are testing the 200 employees who worked on the floor where the first cases were discovered, while monitoring the other 550 in the center's workforce who are self-quarantined.

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At least 90 cases confirmed this week, including 62 in Seoul, were linked directly to the call center located near a public transportation hub connecting Seoul with Incheon and other major cities, the KCDC said.

The virus infection soared for the past 20 days, with 7,482 new cases reported from February 19 to March 9.

Of the 7,513 known cases, 5,663 are in Daegu and 1,117 are in North Gyeongsang province.

Majority are connected to a religious sect in the southern city of Daegu. The cases in the region represent 90 percent of the country's total.

Malaysia said Wednesday that citizens from Iran, Italy and South Korea will be barred from entering the country to curb the outbreak, daily Star reported.

The infection rate had slowed in recent days, raising hopes that South Korea might be bringing the virus under control.