South Korea reports first coronavirus death: health officials

The death of a South Korean man in his 60s marks the first coronavirus-related fatality in the country.

Officials with the South Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the death on Thursday in a man believed to be about 63 years old. He tested positive for the novel virus posthumously after recently experiencing pneumonia-like symptoms, according to The Associated Press.


The man, who was not identified, died at Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo, where he had been hospitalized in the psychiatric ward for the past number of years due to schizophrenia. All patients and staff members in the psychiatric ward have since been tested for the virus, The New York Times reported.

The South Korea CDC also confirmed additional cases of the virus, raising the country’s total to 104. Some 43 members of a church in Daegu have been infected, according to The New York Times, their cases likely linked to a previously confirmed virus patient, a woman in her early 60s who attended services at the same church.

The church, which claims about 200,000 followers in South Korea, said it has closed all of its 74 sanctuaries around the nation and told followers to instead watch its worship services on YouTube. It said in a statement that health officials were disinfecting its church in Daegu and were tracing the woman’s contacts. The Daegu church has about 8,000 followers.

The church said officials have advised followers since late January to stay at home if they had recently traveled overseas or were experiencing even mild cold-like symptoms. But the woman assumed she had a common cold and kept coming to the church because she hadn’t traveled overseas, church officials said.


“We think it’s deeply regrettable … for causing concerns to the local community,” the statement said.

More than 75,000 people worldwide are infected with the novel virus, according to Thursday estimates. Some 2,130 people have died.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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