75 Recent Nursing Graduates Heading To Work In Coronavirus Epicenter Where Many Nurses Have Quit

South Korean medical workers wearing protective gear visit a residence of people with suspected symptoms of the COVID-19 coronavirus to take samples, near the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu on February 27, 2020. Jung Yeon-Je/Getty

Amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, 75 newly commissioned nurses will head to the city of Daegu, South Korea, which has become known as an epicenter for the virus.

According to the Korean Yonhap News Agency, the nurses graduated from Korea's Armed Forces Nursing Academy and will be sent to a military hospital in the city.

South Korea has seen the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases outside of China, with a majority of the cases being traced back to Daegu, specifically a Christian group called the Shincheonji Church of Jesus.

Korean health officials believe that the virus was spread at such a high rate during the church's services due to its structure. During a press briefing, the director of the South Korean Centre for Disease Control suggested that "there is a possibility that the characteristics of many people sitting close together in a very confined space and holding service for more than an hour," led to "a few who were exposed infecting many other infectees."

The leader of the church, Lee Man-hee, apologized to the country during a press conference.

"Although it was not intentional, many people have been infected. We put our utmost efforts, but were unable to prevent it all," Lee said, according to the BBC.

According to a March 3 report by the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 90,893 reported cases of COVID-19 globally, and 3,110 deaths. Currently, there are 4,212 confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Korea, and 28 people have died.

The graduation ceremony for the nurses was held outside and other than Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo, no guests were in attendance. Instead, the ceremony was live streamed on YouTube and Facebook.

With the large number of COVID-19 cases, the nurses, who were commissioned a week earlier than scheduled, according to The Korean Herald, are ready to help treat infected patients.

The nurses were put into commission a week earlier due to a large number of nurses resigning from their positions. According to The Telegraph, sixteen of the 100 nurses at Pohang Medical Centre in the North Geyongsang Province quit last week, citing overwork and personal reasons. In addition to the nurses who quit, a number of hospitals warned Korean officials that they did not have enough doctors and nurses to contain and treat the infected.

"I'm thrilled to have been commissioned, as the situation is serious, I will use what I learned from school and try to do my best to fight off COVID-19," Lt. Jang Geun-Chang said during an interview with News Center.

"Patients come before me," said Lt. Kim Seul-gi, according to The Korean Herald.

"I am willing to give my life to our people and the military as military duty agents, imitating my grandfather, who risked his life for his injured comrades during the war," said Lt. Lee Hye-min, as translated by Google from Yonhap News.

Despite the eagerness to help their fellow citizens, the newly commissioned nurses will be venturing to a dangerously infected area.

"I've been working for 15 days straight, and I can't think anymore. I feel bad for the younger nurses with less experience, and I do my best not to give them extra work. They tell me that at home, they pass right out as soon as their head hits the pillow," Kim Ju-hyeon, a nurse at a screening clinic in Daegu told South Korean newspaper, The Hankyoreh.