By Sunny Um WIRED Korea
The number of coronavirus infections has shot up to 2,337, almost a 70-fold increase from 31 early last week. Mostly responsible for the upsurge are those who attended religious services and other events in Daegu, a provincial capital of more than 2 million people 320 km from Seoul.
Large daily increases in the number of new infections have followed since the case number 31, a 61-year-old woman, was confirmed infected on February 17. The Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) found a connection between the 31st patient and many of the new cases involving those who, KCDC said, attended services of Shincheonji, a Christian sect, in Daegu.
Vice Health and Welfare Minister Kim Gang-lip said at a daily briefing on February 28 that the government authorities have checked 110,000 Shincheonji members in the country and that 1,600 members who show symptoms are told to go into self-isolations.
Hit hard by the outbreak is the entertainment industry, with people shunning movie houses and pop concerts. But over-the-top service providers gained much from the rapid spread of a novel coronavirus, officially called COVID-19.
A Korean Film Council (KOFIC) report shows around 17 million people visited local cinemas in January, which is the lowest number of visits since 2012. Korean artists including WINNER and AKMU canceled their scheduled performances in early February.
On February 28, BTS, a popular K-POP boyband, canceled a series of concerts planned in Seoul as the epidemic is sweeping the nation.
Movie and music lovers in Korea are finding alternative entertainment on internet protocol television (IPTV) platforms, Netflix, and of course, personal computers and mobile phones.
In the third week of February, the number of video on demand (VOD) pay-per-views on three IPTV platforms – KT, LG Uplus and SK Broadband – and one digital cable television service doubled from the previous week.
Netflix had a boost from the virus spread, according to a report from Global Bigdata Research based in Seoul. While there were about 3,700 posts that mention “Netflix” on four social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Kakao Story) on February 15, the number jumped to 5,000 on February 25.
“Our data shows that more people are trying to stay home these days because of the coronavirus outbreak,” says an official of Global Bigdata Research.
The average usage of personal computers and mobile phones went up as well, according to Nielson Korea. In January, people spent about 1,069 minutes on average on the internet via personal computers in Korea, which is a 0.8 percent increase from the numbers in December. The time spent on mobile applications available at Apple App Store and Google Play Store also rose by 0.8 percent and 0.6 percent respectively.
The report said: “The average time spent on personal computers and mobile apps has increased as people avoid going outside and search for more information.”
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