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(6th LD) 3 more virus cases bring S. Korea's total to 19, two confirmed after trip to Singapore

All News 20:14 February 05, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead, paras 2-4 with updated info)

SEOUL, Feb. 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Wednesday confirmed three more cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the total here to 19, with two of the latest cases involving patients who had returned from Singapore amid growing concerns over the illness spreading from countries other than China.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said a 36-year-old South Korean man who returned from Singapore after attending a conference there from Jan. 18-23 tested positive for the contagious virus.

Another South Korean man, age 38, who recently visited Singapore to attend the same conference and came into contact with an infected Malaysian, also tested positive for the virus, it said.

The patients in the country's 19th and 17th cases were informed that one of the people they had been in contact with in Singapore was infected with the virus, so they visited a clinic in South Korea and were confirmed to have contracted the illness, according to the public health agency.

The agency said that it has contacted counterparts in both Singapore and Malaysia to determine how he contracted the virus.

A monitor at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, displays information on ways to fight the new coronavirus on Feb. 3, 2020. (Yonhap)

A monitor at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, displays information on ways to fight the new coronavirus on Feb. 3, 2020. (Yonhap)

The 18th case is a 21-year-old South Korean woman who is the daughter of the country's 16th patient, who returned from a trip to Thailand on Jan. 19 but moved freely for around two weeks before being diagnosed with the virus.

Of the confirmed cases in South Korea, four are believed to have been infected during stays in countries other than China.

South Korea's 12th case is of a 48-year-old Chinese man who worked as a tour guide in Japan and could have been infected by a Japanese associate.

On a related note, South Korea remained cautious about expanding entry restrictions to people arriving from countries other than China.

Public health authorities said that it will consider the move based on various factors, including more detailed test results from the cases believed to have been infected in countries other than China.

Starting Tuesday, South Korea has been implementing entry restrictions on those arriving from China as the country struggles to fight the potentially fatal disease amid concerns over its further spread.

(6th LD) 3 more virus cases bring S. Korea's total to 19, two confirmed after trip to Singapore - 2

With the 16th patient suspected of infecting her daughter at a clinic in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul, those who have been in contact with the 42-year-old South Korean at the facility, including medical staff, were placed in quarantine for close observation.

The patient might have come in contact with 306 people in the country, according to the authorities.

The KCDC said it is tracing the steps of the country's all confirmed cases to determine where they went and the people they may have met, amid growing concerns over further human transmission.

Since Jan. 3, the public health agency has screened 714 people and quarantined 174 people for detailed checks for the novel coronavirus. Some 950 who might have come into contact with infected people are in self-quarantine and monitored carefully for signs of the illness.

The health authorities said they discharged a man from a hospital who recovered after being infected with coronavirus. The 55-year-old South Korean, who had been to the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, returned home on Jan. 22 and tested positive for the illness.

He was the country's second confirmed case after the first one was reported on Jan. 20, and is the first patient of the 18 infected cases to be released from a hospital.

Also, the person in the country's first case is likely to be released from a hospital on Thursday as the 35-year-old Chinese woman, diagnosed with the illness on Jan. 20, had showed no symptoms of the virus as of Monday, according to the KCDC.

The KCDC said that as of early Wednesday, the virus that is thought to have originated in Wuhan, China, has claimed some 480 lives, while infecting over 23,000 people in 27 countries.


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