South Korea has reported more than 120 new virus cases today 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 worshippers have been screened for the virus.
The Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says 113 of the 120 new cases were reported in Daegu and its surrounding province.
Meanwhile, mainland China reported 648 new infections for a total of 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 Chinese 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 per cent of the country's cases are in Hubei, where the death toll has also been higher than in the rest of the nation.