(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 10, 12)
SEOUL, Feb. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Monday reported no additional cases of the novel coronavirus and was conducting tests on 61 people quarantined with potential symptoms of the disease amid concerns over person-to-person transmissions.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said, with the total number of infections steady at 15, it had checked 490 people since Jan. 3, with 414 testing negative. It stated that 913 people who have been in contact with the confirmed coronavirus patients are being closely monitored.
The KCDC said of the confirmed cases, nine have returned from China in recent weeks with five others presumed to have contracted the virus through person-to-person transmission. The center said it is identifying where infected people have visited and whom they met.
The KCDC said that all confirmed coronavirus patients are in stable condition and one person is being considered for release.
Under existing rules, a person who passes polymerase chain reaction tests twice within 24 hours can be released if he or she shows no other symptoms, but Seoul needs to evaluate this guideline in light of the characteristics of the new virus.
The KCDC said that it has released 45 people quarantined because they had contact with the country's first confirmed sufferer of the new coronavirus.
According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), 75 others who came into contact with the second person here to have contracted the novel virus will also be released from observation on Friday if none show signs of being sick.
They have been under observation for potential symptoms of the disease and to prevent its spread.
The country reported its first case of the potentially fatal disease on Jan. 20.
The first confirmed case involves a 35-year-old Chinese woman who showed signs of being sick when she arrived in the country and was held at Incheon International Airport.
Officials said the woman's condition has improved and that she's now able to carry out daily functions.
The second confirmed case was a 55-year-old man who returned from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the viral illness, on Jan. 22 and tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus two days later.
This patient has since tested negative in consecutive tests. Typically, those diagnosed with infectious diseases are considered fully recovered if they test negative twice within a 24-hour span. Health authorities here are gathering expert opinions on whether to apply the same standard to the coronavirus cases or to establish new criteria.
Since Jan. 3, the public health agency has tested 490 people for the coronavirus -- 15 are confirmed to have contracted it and 414 have been released from isolation. But 61 people are still being quarantined over possible infection.
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