SEOUL, March 16 (Xinhua) -- South Korea reported 76 more cases of the COVID-19 compared to 24 hours ago as of midnight Monday local time, raising the total number of infections to 8,236.
The newly confirmed cases stayed below 100 for the second consecutive day, after recording the first double-digit growth in 23 days on Sunday.
One more death was confirmed, lifting the death toll to 76.
A total of 303 more patients were discharged from quarantine after making full recovery, pulling up the combined number to 1,137.
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 8,205 new cases reported from Feb. 19 to March 15. 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 6,066 and 1,164 respectively. It accounted for almost 90 percent of the total.
The numbers in Seoul and its adjacent Gyeonggi province came to 253 and 231 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 disaster 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 274,000 people, among whom 251,297 tested negative for the virus and 14,971 were being checked.