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(4th LD) S. Korea reports 1 more coronavirus case, total at 25

All Headlines 15:48 February 09, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS KCDC's briefing in paras 5-7, 11)

SEOUL, Feb. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Sunday confirmed one additional infection case of the new coronavirus, bringing the total here to 25.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said a 73-year-old South Korean woman, whose family members visited China's Guangdong province from November to Jan. 31, tested positive for the contagious virus.

She showed symptoms of fever, cough and sore throat, and is hospitalized at the Seoul National University Bundang Hospital in Seongnam, just south of Seoul.

"The patient was hospitalized at about 8:40 a.m. and is now in stable condition without a fever and other notable symptoms," a hospital official said.

In a briefing on the latest case, a KCDC official said the 25th patient appears to have been infected by her daughter-in-law who has been to Guangdong with her husband.

The official said the daughter-in-law had a cough before the 25th patient felt ill and visited a health center for a check-up in the latter half of last week.

"We have extracted specimens from the 25th patient's son and his wife, and the tests are now under way," the official said.

This photo taken Feb. 9, 2020, shows the International Passenger Terminal of the Busan Port in Busan, 453 kilometers south of Seoul, with a couple of docked ferries amid the spreading coronavirus. (Yonhap)

On Sunday, 22 out of the country's 25 confirmed patients are receiving treatment at local hospitals as the fourth patient was discharged from a hospital in the morning, the KCDC said.

The 55-year-old South Korean man returned from his visit to the Chinese city of Wuhan at the center of the coronavirus on Jan. 20 and was diagnosed with the deadly virus on Jan. 27. He was the country's third case to fully recover from the virus and be discharged from a hospital. Two others left the hospital last week.

The first fully recovered person is a 55-year-old man who had visited China, while the second is a 35-year-old Chinese woman who had come from Wuhan.

The KCDC official expects more of the diagnosed people will be discharged as most of them have minor symptoms.

South Korea had tested a total of 2,340 people for the new virus as of 1 p.m. Sunday since Jan. 3, up from 2,097 tallied at 4 p.m. the previous day, the KCDC said on its webpage, adding it was checking 960 people.

The data came as health authorities expanded the scope of people subject to the test for the contagious virus and has allowed more medical centers to conduct the tests since Friday.

Common symptoms of the new coronavirus, thought to have originated in Wuhan, central China, include fever, sore throat and breathing difficulties, with more acute cases being chills and muscle pain.

South Korea is maintaining a high level of vigilance to prevent the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.

Since emerging first in Wuhan late last year, the coronavirus had killed more than 800 and infected over 37,000 people in mainland China as of Sunday. It has reached over 20 countries, including as far away as the United States.

The new virus is from the same family of coronaviruses as the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), although the mortality rate is lower. SARS killed 774 people worldwide nearly two decades ago.

Governments have stepped up their defense, with several countries banning arrivals from China, while major airlines have suspended or reduced flights on Chinese routes.

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 shown symptoms like an elevated temperature or respiratory issues.

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 the entry of foreigners who visited or stayed in Hubei, where Wuhan is located, in the previous two weeks.

On Friday, a quick test for the epidemic 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 health centers for a check-up. In addition, doctors at the centers can test a person at their own discretion even if he or she has not been to China recently.

This photo taken Feb. 9, 2020, shows notices posted on doors of stores near the Gwangju 21st Century Hospital, where a confirmed patient of the coronavirus was reported. (Yonhap)

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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