SEOUL, March 31 (Xinhua) -- South Korea reported 125 more cases of the COVID-19 compared to 24 hours ago as of midnight Tuesday local time, raising the total number of infections to 9,786.

Of the new cases, 15 were found at airports. The country will force all entrants from overseas to be put under self-quarantine for two weeks beginning Wednesday midnight local time.

Four more deaths were confirmed, lifting the death toll to 162. The total fatality rate came in at 1.66 percent.

A total of 180 more patients were discharged from quarantine after making full recovery, pulling up the combined number to 5,408.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) has updated the data once a day at 10:00 a.m. local time from March 10, after having announced it twice a day.

Except for the first 31 cases, all the infections have been reported since Feb. 19. 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 6,684 and 1,300 respectively. It accounted for over 80 percent of the total.

The numbers in Seoul and its adjacent Gyeonggi province came to 450 and 476 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 410,000 people, among whom 383,886 tested negative for the virus and 16,892 were being checked.