The coronavirus outbreak has spread even further over the weekend, resulting in 763 confirmed cases and seven related deaths, prompting the South Korean government to raise the infectious disease threat level.
An additional 161 people were confirmed on Sunday, bringing the total from 602 cases on Sunday to 763 on Monday.
Of the 161 newly confirmed, 129 people were found to belong to a South Korean cult called Shincheonji.
Out of the total 763 confirmed patients, 458 people confirmed with the coronavirus belong to the cult, indicating more than half, or 60%, of the country's infections, have been traced to the obscure church.
The latest death of the 62-year old Korean man occurred at Daenam Hospital located in Cheongdo County in North Gyeongsang Province. The death toll currently stands at seven.
The government confirmed that 18 people had been treated and released, and 738 are under self-quarantine. About 8,725 people are undergoing testing for the novel coronavirus.
In response, President Moon Jae-in announced Sunday that the government would raise the national crisis alarm to the most severe level, marking the second time the government has relied on such drastic measures. The first severe crisis alarm was issued in 2009 during the new flu influenza outbreak.
According to the government's Coronavirus Central Accident and Resolution Headquarters, President Moon presided over the coronavirus pan-government meeting on Sunday and announced that "We will raise the crisis level to the highest, severe level and greatly strengthen our response system."
"The government, local governments, quarantine authorities, medical staff, residents, and the whole nation must come together and work as one to meet the critical turning point," President Moon said. "The next couple of days will be critical."
The delegation conveyed this fact during an official briefing after the Pan-Governmental Conference and outlined the future defense system and plans for the operation of the Central Disaster Safety Response Headquarters.
"We need to take a preemptive response in light of the situation that Corona 19 will grow from regional dissemination to national proliferation," said Head of the Central Accident Resolution Division and Minister of Health and Welfare Park Neung-hoo.
"In this regard, we will raise the warning of the infectious disease crisis, and the Prime Minister will take over as head of the Central Accident and Resolution Headquarters," Park said.