(ATTN: RECAST lead; UPDATES with more details in lead, paras 2, 4-5; CHANGES photos)
SEOUL, Feb. 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Tuesday confirmed its 16th case of novel coronavirus infection, with the latest patient having recently visited Thailand, as the country takes more stringent quarantine measures to stem the spread of the virus.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said the patient, a 42-year-old South Korean woman, returned from a trip to Thailand on Jan. 19 and started feeling chills on Jan. 25. Her condition did not improve despite receiving treatment for several days, so she was tested at a general hospital in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul, on Monday with the test results coming up positive.
Thailand has reported 19 cases of virus infections.
The KCDC said that she has been placed in quarantine with efforts underway to find out where she has been and whom she met, to see if they too have symptoms.
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.
The latest case, which is likely to be a person-to-person transmission, is the second involving a person who has not been to China but contracted the illness in a foreign country.
On Saturday, a 48-year-old Chinese man, who worked as a guide in Japan, arrived here and tested positive.
Since Jan. 3, the public health authorities had checked 607 people, with 462 testing negative. The agency said 129 are also being checked for potential cases.
It stated that 1,318 people who have been in contact with the confirmed coronavirus patients here are being closely monitored for symptoms.
The KCDC said that as of early Tuesday, the virus that is thought to have originated in Wuhan, China claimed 426 lives, while infecting over 20,000 people in 27 countries.
Health authorities said that despite the new case, it is ready to discharge its first fully recovered coronavirus patient from a hospital this week as he has made a full recovery and is showing no symptoms of the illness.
The 55-year-old South Korean who had been to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak, returned home on Jan. 22 and tested positive for the illness two days later.
He was the second person to have been tested with the virus after the first incident was reported on Jan. 20.
The National Medical Center, where the patient is staying, said earlier in the day that he has been completely treated for pneumonia and is in good health and able to resume a normal life.
The KCDC said that as of early Tuesday, the virus has claimed 426 lives, while infecting over 20,000 people in 27 countries.
The health authorities said despite stepped-up efforts to contain the spread of the virus, it is unlikely the matter will be resolved anytime soon.
Starting Tuesday, non-Korean travelers coming from or through China's Hubei province are denied entry into South Korea as the country is widening efforts to combat the continuing spread of the novel coronavirus.
The entry ban applies to all non-Korean travelers who over the past 14 days have stayed or traveled to the Chinese province, the home to Wuhan where the new coronavirus originated.
It is part of South Korea's first border control measures taken to avert the further advance of the epidemic into the country.
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