REMOVES REFERENCE TO NUMBER OF VIRAL INFECTIONS - Visitors wearing face masks walk near the Gwanghwamun, the main gate of the 14th-century Gyeongbok Palace, and one of South Korea's well-known landmarks, in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. South Korea's Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip says the outbreak has entered a serious new phase but expressed cautious optimism that it can be contained to the region surrounding Daegu, where the first case was reported on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

China reports daily rise in viral infections to 648 cases

February 22, 2020 - 9:12 pm

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — China reported Sunday a rise in new virus cases to 648, bringing mainland China's total number of confirmed infections to 76,936.

The daily death toll fell slightly to 97. In all, 2,442 people have died in the country from COVID-19.

The number of new cases has seesawed daily but remained under 1,000 for the past four days. Several changes to how the infections are counted, however, have made it difficult to draw conclusions from the figures.

The central Chinese city of Wuhan and other parts of Hubei province, where the outbreak first emerged in December, remain under lockdown. More than 80% of the country's cases are in Hubei, where the death toll has also been higher than in the rest of the nation.

China's Politburo, made up of senior officials of the ruling Communist Party, cautioned Friday that while the epidemic has been "preliminarily contained," the country has yet to see a turning point.

Officials signaled that regular activities should gradually resume after the virus prompted an extension of last month's Lunar New Year holiday. Many workplaces have opted to have their employees work remotely, and schools are conducting online classes in place of physical ones.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP's earlier story follows below

South Korea has reported more than 120 new virus cases and the country's fourth fatality, raising the total number of those infected to 556.

The fresh national figures for the disease that emerged in China in December came as the number of viral infections soared mostly in and around the southeastern city of Daegu, where they were linked to a local church and a hospital. Thousands of worshipers have been screened for the virus.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 113 of the 120 new cases were reported in Daegu and its surrounding province.

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