South Korea's coronavirus caseload rose above 5,600 on Wednesday, with the outbreak in the southeastern city of Daegu, the hotspot here, showing little sign of a slowdown. The country unveiled an extra budget of 11.7 trillion won (US$9.8 billion) to help fight the virus and mitigate the economic fallout.
The 293 new cases, which were identified over the past 16 hours on Wednesday, brought the nation's total number of infections to 5,621, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.
Wednesday's additional cases followed 516 news cases detected on Tuesday, 600 new cases on Monday, the nation's sharpest daily spike of 813 on Saturday.
So far, 35 people, mostly elderly patients with underlying illnesses, have died in South Korea from the respiratory virus that emerged in China late last year, according to the KCDC and municipal governments.
The latest victims of COVID-19 -- a 72-year-old man and a 87-year-old woman -- were reported in Daegu in the night. The man suffered from diabetes and hypertension, while the woman had a heart problem and dementia before being diagnosed with the novel coronavirus on Feb. 24, according to Daegu's health authorities.
Earlier in the day, Daegu reported the nation's 33rd fatality from the virus, a 67-year-old woman who had no underlying illness. KCDC Director-General Jeong Eun-kyeong said the woman died at a hospital after her pneumonia, caused by COVID-19, worsened.
Unveiling the extra budget, which is subject to approval from the National Assembly, Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said 2.3 trillion won will be allocated to offer more medical equipment, hospital beds and facilities for patient treatment.
President Moon Jae-in canceled his planned visits to the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Turkey this month to focus on the fight against the virus, presidential spokesman Kang Min-seok said.(Yonhap)