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(LEAD) S. Korea to test all people with signs of novel coronavirus

All News 12:04 February 03, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details throughout)

SEOUL, Feb. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Monday that it will start testing everyone who shows symptoms of novel coronavirus, regardless of whether they have visited China recently, as the country braces for further spread of the potentially fatal virus.

According to the health ministry, the new rules will go into effect as soon as tests kits are made available. Doctors at the country's 532 clinics will conduct detailed tests on people complaining of illness that may be linked to the new virus.

So far, only those with pneumonia-like conditions who had visited the Chinese city of Wuhan and surrounding Hubei Province have been tested.

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

Medical staff at the National Medical Center wear protective masks and suits as they prepare to check people for the novel coronavirus in this photo taken on Jan. 29, 2020. (Yonhap)

The ministry also said that it plans to start screening everyone who has been to China in the last 14 days, even if they show no signs of the illness as there are growing worries that those who arrived here symptom-free can unwittingly spread the virus to others.

As of Sunday, the state health agency said it was testing 87 people in quarantine after confirming 15 people were infected with the coronavirus.

The authorities also said that starting on Tuesday, everyone who came in contact with people infected with the virus will be required to quarantine themselves for two weeks, and that failure to do so will result in stiff fines.

The ministry added that of the second batch of 333 people airlifted from Wuhan on Saturday, none have tested positive for the illness.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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