An outbreak of pneumonia caused by a new strain of coronavirus originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has so far claimed the lives of more than 2,440 people in mainland China. As of today, cases of coronavirus have been identified in more than 30 countries worldwide.

161 additional cases of the novel coronavirus have been registered in South Korea, bringing the total number of cases to 763, Yonhap News Agency reported on Monday citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Korea. At least seven people have died so far, it added.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CEO Eun Eun-kyung) said that as of 24 February 2020, 161 patients were confirmed [with coronavirus] compared to 16:00 on the day before", the statement said.

131 new cases were identified in Daegu alone, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

18 patients have been discharged, and 8,725 people are still awaiting test results.

Earlier, South Korea reported a total of 556 people infected with the new coronavirus.

The outbreak is traced back to services at the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, namely to a woman who reportedly refused to be tested for coronavirus because she had never travelled to China before, but got infected and spread the disease among the parishioners of the church.

As it has seen a sharp jump in the number of coronavirus cases, South Korea has raised the highest level of alert in the country.

Daegu previously implemented numerous measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including isolating soldiers at military bases. The government is urging residents in the affected areas to stay at home.