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(2nd LD) S. Korea reports 12th confirmed case of novel coronavirus

All News 12:50 February 01, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS more info from para 7; ADDS top photo)

SEOUL, Feb. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Saturday reported its 12th confirmed case of the novel coronavirus, as the country tightens quarantine efforts to stem the spread of the contagious disease.

According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), the latest case involves a 49-year-old Chinese man who works as a tour guide in Japan and arrived in the country on Jan. 19 through Gimpo International Airport in western Seoul.

The KCDC said the man was acquainted with a Japanese person infected with the virus, indicating that he may be another person-to-person transmission case. It said that the Japanese acquaintance had urged the man to go to a hospital to be checked.

"He visited a hospital here where tests showed he was infected and has since been placed under quarantine," the public health agency said.

It said every effort is being made to determine details of his whereabouts while in the country and people he may have come in contact with, adding more information of the case will be provided later.

A South Korean who arrived from Wuhan, China, on a chartered flight is taken to a hospital in Seoul on Feb. 1, 2020, after showing signs of illness on arrival at Gimpo International Airport. (Yonhap)

South Korea confirmed its first coronavirus case on Jan. 20, with the second incident being reported on Jan. 24, followed by one each on Sunday and Monday. The country said two more cases were recorded Thursday, with five being announced Friday.

The latest five incidents are people who have not been to China recently and were infected by others. This kind of transmission is worrisome because such people do not know they have contracted the illness even if they have symptoms and can go about contaminating large numbers of people unwittingly.

Common signs of infection include fever, coughing, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome and even lead to death.

Health authorities said that all people who have tested positive for the illness in the country are in stable condition.

"The fourth patient, a 55-year-old Korean is being treated for pneumonia, although his condition is not life-threatening in anyway," an official source said. He stressed that none of the people kept in isolation were in critical condition. He said for those that are getting better, authorities are conducting so-called polymerase chain reaction assays twice every 24 hours to see if the virus is still in the body. If the tests turn out to be negative, they will be released from quarantine, although this does not mean they will be able to leave the hospital.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare said that of the 18 people sent to hospitals after being airlifted from Wuhan, the epicenter of the current viral outbreak, on Friday, 11 were shown to not be infected, with seven still being checked. The total number of people brought in on the first airlift was 368, with the second, which arrived earlier Saturday, carrying 333, with seven taken to a hospital for further checks.

Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said at the daily news briefing that while the government is taking all the steps it can to control the virus, ordinary people should do their part to take extra care of personal hygiene.

The KCDC said that as of early Saturday, the virus, which is thought to have originated in Wuhan, China, has killed 259 people and infected around 12,000 people worldwide.

A staff member at Seoul National University Hospital in Bundang, south of Seoul, is in a full protective suit waiting to check people entering the entrance on Jan. 29, 2020. (Yonhap)

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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