(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in last 2 paras)
SEOUL, Feb. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Monday it will adopt more stringent quarantine measures against the new coronavirus by testing those who show symptoms after arriving from China and placing those who have been in contact with confirmed cases into self-quarantine.
The measures, to be effective Tuesday, came as the country braces for the further spread of the potentially fatal virus. So far, the country has reported 15 confirmed cases, with 61 potential cases under observation.
The country's health authorities said they will start testing anyone who arrives here from China and shows symptoms of the novel coronavirus, such as fever, within 14 days, although they are not classified as potential cases.
Doctors at the country's 532 clinics will be able to 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 visited the Chinese city of Wuhan or the surrounding Hubei province have been tested.
Common signs of infection include fever, coughing, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties and muscle cramps. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome and even lead to death.
Also, the health authorities said 913 people confirmed to have been in contact with the infected cases will be put under self-quarantine for at least two weeks, out of concerns over human transmission.
Of the 15 confirmed cases, nine were judged to be those who had come from China, with five others believed to be person-to-person transmissions that took place here. One is a Chinese man who is believed to have been infected during a stay in Japan.
The ministry also said 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 could unwittingly spread the virus to others.
The move comes as the country said it will start restricting foreigners entering the country from Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak, with the visa-less entry of Chinese nationals to Jeju Island to be temporarily halted.
Seoul is, moreover, considering a move to expand the regions in China that will be subject to travel restrictions.
South Korea reported no new cases of the novel coronavirus Monday and said it is conducting tests on 61 people quarantined with potential symptoms of the disease.
The health authorities have checked 490 people, 414 of whom tested negative, and stated that 913 people have been in contact with the confirmed coronavirus patients.
The ministry added that of the second batch of 333 people airlifted from Wuhan on Saturday, none have tested positive for the illness.
Of the 701 people transported from Wuhan on chartered flights late last week, only one has tested positive for the illness, with the others being housed in temporary facilities for two weeks to make certain they have not been infected.
The virus that was first reported in Wuhan late last year has so far killed 361 people and infected 17,363 people worldwide as of Monday.
Besides China, it has spread to 26 countries, including many parts of Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America.
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