SEOUL, March 15 (Xinhua) -- South Korea for the first time reported a double-digit growth of 76 more cases of the COVID-19, compared to 24 hours ago as of midnight Sunday local time, raising the total number of infections to 8,162.
The double-digit growth was the first time in 23 days since Feb. 21, as the newly confirmed cases have slowed recently, after recording 107 on Saturday, 110 on Friday and 114 on Thursday each.
Three more deaths were confirmed, lifting the death toll to 75.
A total of 120 more patients were discharged from quarantine after making full recovery, pulling up the combined number to 834.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) decided to update the data once a day at 10:00 a.m. local time from March 10, after having announced it twice a day.
The virus infection soared for the past weeks, with 8,131 new cases reported from Feb. 19 to March 14. The country has raised its four-tier virus alert to the highest "red" level.
The total number of infections in Daegu, about 300 km southeast of Seoul, and its surrounding North Gyeongsang province increased to 6,031 and 1,157 respectively. It accounted for almost 90 percent of the total.
The numbers in Seoul and its adjacent Gyeonggi province came to 247 and 211 each.
Daegu became the epicenter of the viral spread here as the biggest cluster of infections was found in the metropolis with a 2.5 million population. Daegu has been designated by the government as a "special care zone."
The Daegu cluster was closely linked to the church services of a homegrown minor religious sect, called Sincheonji, in Daegu. Members of the sect are known to sit on the floor closely side by side during church services.
Since Jan. 3, the country has tested more than 268,000 people, among whom 243,778 tested negative for the virus and 16,272 were being checked.