(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in paras 4-5, 7, 10)
SEOUL, Feb. 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Tuesday confirmed its 16th case of the novel coronavirus infection, with the latest patient having recently visited Thailand, as more stringent quarantine measures are being taken to stem the spread of the virus.
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, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
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 back positive. Thailand has reported 19 cases of virus infections.
The KCDC said that she has been placed in quarantine with efforts under way to find out where she has been and whom she met, to see if they too have symptoms. Tracing her steps is crucial as she moved around freely for some two weeks after her return and could have inadvertently infected others.
The agency, however, said that it is not considering designating Thailand as a travel-restricted country because of this case.
The latest case, which is likely to be a person-to-person transmission, is the second one involving a person who has not been to China but could have contracted the illness in a foreign country, although this has not been determined yet.
On Saturday, a 48-year-old Chinese man, who worked as a guide in Japan, arrived here and tested positive.
The man is known to have contacted 666 people here, and infected his wife, the country's 14th case.
Since Jan. 3, the public health authorities have checked 607 people, with 462 testing negative. The agency said 129 are in quarantine and 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 globally, while infecting over 20,600 people in 27 countries. The confirmed deaths have all been in China with the exception of one fatality reported in the Philippines.
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 agency said it has already delisted 45 people who came into contact with the country's first confirmed case as of Tuesday, after none showed signs of getting sick.
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.
BTS' 'Map of the Soul: 7' extends longest streak on Billboard 200 by K-pop group to 60 weeks
S. Korea to invest 114 tln won by 2030 to expand railway network
(LEAD) New virus cases in 700s for 2nd day; vaccinations set to top 2 mln
N. Korea seeking to defeat U.S. missile defenses: CRS report
(3rd LD) 'Comfort women' lose lawsuit against Tokyo over wartime sexual slavery