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South Korea coronavirus infections surge past 340

Two additional cases of novel coronavirus have been confirmed in Taiwan, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

That brings the total number of cases on the island to 26.

The latest patients are the daughter, aged in her 40s, and granddaughter, 20, of a previous case. Both have no recent travel history.

The granddaughter developed a cough on January 28, while the daughter had gastroesophageal reflux on February 9, the ministry statement said.

They are currently in isolation. 

A member of a medical team takes the temperature of a traveler at a border crossing in Iraq, upon their return from Iran on February 21.
A member of a medical team takes the temperature of a traveler at a border crossing in Iraq, upon their return from Iran on February 21. Hussein Faleh/AFP via Getty Images

There is great concern about the spread of the novel coronavirus in countries outside China, with Iran reporting a spike in numbers and deaths, and other Middle Eastern countries reporting their first cases.

South Korea has also seen a huge uptick in cases, with over 340 now confirmed nationwide.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization's director general has said the window of opportunity to control the outbreak is "narrowing."

What you need to know:

The numbers: Confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in mainland China increased by 397 on Friday to reach a total of 76,288.

Another 109 deaths were recorded in China on Friday, bringing its total death toll to 2,345, according to China’s National Health Commission. The global death toll stands at 2,360. 

Changing the tally: Officials in Hubei province, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, have banned the practice of reducing the number of already confirmed cases. It also mandated that all previously counted cases stand as part of the total confirmed tally. The vast majority of cases and deaths in China have been recorded in Hubei.

Crisis in South Korea: Cases in the Asian country have surged past 340 after more than 140 new infections were reported on Saturday. Around half of the total cases are associated with a religious group in the south of the country. Two patients have died of the virus in South Korea.

South Korean authorities are taking measures to contain the outbreak, including shutting down public places in the capital Seoul and designating "special care zones."

Middle East spread: Iran's health ministry has confirmed 18 cases of the virus, including four deaths, and said it has spread to several cities. Meanwhile, Lebanon and Israel have reported their first cases.

WHO warning: World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the window of opportunity to contain the virus is "narrowing" and called on countries to prepare for community transmission.

US cases rise: 34 people have tested positive for the virus in the US, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This includes 21 cases among repatriated individuals, as well as 13 other US cases. The CDC said it will now track confirmed cases in two separate groups: people who have been repatriated, and those identified by the US public health network.

Prison outbreaks: 512 cases of the virus were confirmed from inside China's prisons on Friday -- 271 in Hubei , 207 in Shandong and 34 in Zhejiang.

Workers wearing protective gear prepare to disinfect against the coronavirus at a subway station in Seoul, on February 21, 2020.
Workers wearing protective gear prepare to disinfect against the coronavirus at a subway station in Seoul, on February 21, 2020. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

South Korea reported a jump of 142 additional cases overnight, bringing the country's total to 346, according to the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

New cases breakdown:

Clusters: Among the 142 new cases, 92 are linked to the Cheongdo Daenam hospital, in North Gyeongsang province and 38 are linked with the Shincheonji religious group. South Korean authorities earlier this week were seeking to question more than 1,000 members of the group who attended a service with one of the recently confirmed cases.

Deaths: South Korea reported its second death from the virus on Friday.

Seoul tries to control spread: The South Korean government is taking a range of measures in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus, including shutting down public places in the capital and designating "special care zones."

After three cases were detected in the country's armed forces, all South Korean military personnel have been restricted from leaving their bases and going on vacation.

The death toll from the novel coronavirus in mainland China has increased by 109, according to the latest figures released by China’s National Health Commission (NHC) Saturday.

All but three of those deaths were in Hubei province, at the outbreak's epicenter.

Additional deaths across the mainland bring China's total death toll to 2,345, with 2,250 in Hubei.

That brings the global death toll to 2,360.

Breakdown of deaths globally: There have been 15 deaths reported outside of mainland China:

China cases rise: Confirmed cases in mainland China increased by 397 on Friday to reach a total of 76,288. A total of 366 new confirmed cases were in Hubei province.

Recoveries: Chinese health authorities reported that a total of 20,659 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospital.

The University of Hong Kong
The University of Hong Kong

There’s great concern about the spread of the novel coronavirus in countries outside China and among people with no connection to China or Wuhan, World Health Organization (WHO) director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday.

There’s still a chance to contain the virus, Tedros said, “but the window of opportunity is narrowing.”

The WHO is calling on countries to continue containment measures while preparing for community transmission, he said. He said China’s containment measures in Wuhan and elsewhere are “hammering” the virus and can help contain it.

"We must not look back and regret that we failed to take advantage of the window of opportunity we have,” he said.

The outbreak can still go any direction, Tedros said, and countries need to prepare for any eventuality.

Dr. Sylvie Briand, director of the WHO's Infectious Hazards Management Department, said the agency is working to prepare countries’ health care workers with training and making sure they know how to protect themselves, and to make sure countries have enough workers to handle a number of cases.

A 78-year-old man who tested positive for the novel coronavirus has died at a hospital in Padua, northern Italy.

It is Italy's first death from the coronavirus, that is quickly spreading around the world. The country has reported 14 new confirmed cases of the virus, all in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, bringing the country's total to 17.

Italian news agency ANSA said the patient also suffered from “previous pathologies.”

The death was also reported by the president of the Veneto region, Luca Zaia, in a TV interview.

Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced severe restrictions in areas of the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto, which have recorded most of Italy's coronavirus cases.

All public events have been canceled, schools, shops and local enterprises closed and sporting activities have been suspended.

Anyone who has come into contact with people who have tested positive for the virus must go into quarantine and those who live in villages where coronavirus cases have been reported must stay in isolation at home, according to ordnance issued by Italy’s health ministry.