Background: In Korea, a total of 10,840 confirmed cases of COVID-19 including 256 deaths have been recorded as of May 9, 2020. The time-delay adjusted case fatality risk (CFR) of COVID-19 in Korea is yet to be estimated. Methods: We obtained the daily series of confirmed cases and deaths in Korea reported prior to May 9, 2020. Using statistical methods, we estimated the time-delay adjusted risk for death from COVID-19 in Daegu, Gyeongsangbuk-do, other regions in Korea, as well as the entire country. Results: Our model-based crude CFR fitted the observed data well throughout the course of the epidemic except for the very early stage in Gyeongsangbuk-do; this was partially due to the reporting delay. Our estimates of the risk of death in Gyeongsangbuk-do reached 25.9% (95% Credible Interval (CrI): 19.6%–33.6%), 20.8% (95% CrI: 18.1%–24.0%) in Daegu, and 1.7% (95% CrI: 1.1%–2.5%) in other regions, whereas the national estimate was 10.2% (95% CrI: 9.0%–11.5%). Conclusions: The latest estimates of CFR of COVID-19 in Korea are considerably high, even with the early implementation of public health interventions including widespread testing, social distancing, and delayed school openings. Geographic differences in the CFR are likely influenced by clusters tied to hospitals and nursing homes.
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