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(LEAD) People undergoing coronavirus test in S. Korea jump to 620, confirmed cases unchanged at 24

All News 10:51 February 08, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES with more details in para 2; ADDS background from para 5; CHANGES photo)

SEOUL, Feb. 8 (Yonhap) -- The number of people in South Korea held in quarantine and undergoing coronavirus tests jumped nearly twofold to 620 people Saturday, as the number of confirmed cases here remains unchanged at 24.

The country health protection agency said compared with Friday 293 more people are being checked as Seoul has expanded the scope of people who can be tested for the virus that is thought to have originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), the country has tested 1,701 people for the new coronavirus since Jan. 3, 1,057 of whom have tested negative.

Of all the people confirmed to have contracted the virus here, two who have fully recovered have been released. The total now in quarantine and undergoing treatment stands at 22, with health authorities stressing that all are in stable condition, with those that have recovered to be released soon.

South Korea, which reported its first confirmed case on Jan. 20, has stepped up its response to controlling the spread of the new coronavirus. The country has expanded the scope of its checks to anyone who has visited any part of China and shows symptoms like an elevated temperature or respiratory issues.

Passengers and airline crew members wearing masks approach a quarantine checkpoint at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on Jan. 28, 2020, in this file photo. (Yonhap)

These people are classified as "suspected cases" and are subject to a medical check, according to the KCDC. People who are suffering from pneumonia brought on by unknown causes can also be examined for the virus.

Previously, South Korea only checked people who felt sick within 14 days of returning from Hubei.

South Korea also bars entry to foreigners who visited or stayed in Hubei, where Wuhan is located, in the previous two weeks.

On Friday, a quick test for the new coronavirus became available at 124 public health centers across the country in the latest effort to further stem the spread of the disease here.

Those who have been to China in the last 14 days and feel ill can visit the health centers for a check-up. In addition, doctors at the centers can at their own discretion test a person even if he or she has not been to China recently.

The health ministry here said for now, the country can carry out some 3,000 tests on a daily basis, although priority will be placed on people who have been abroad and those with acute signs of illness.

All costs associated with the tests will be covered by the state, it added.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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