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(2nd LD) Korea's virus cases unchanged at 28, 1 more patient likely to be released

All News 11:36 February 12, 2020

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead with updated info; RESTRUCTURES throughout; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, Feb. 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Wednesday the number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus here remains unchanged from the previous day at 28, with another patient expected to be released from a hospital later in the day.

The country's third confirmed patient with the new strain of virus -- a 54-year-old male patient -- is expected to be discharged later in the day after making a full recovery, according to his doctor. It would be the country's fifth such discharge.

Workers disinfect a market in the southern city of Gwangju, South Korea, on Feb. 11, 2020, amid fears over the spreading new coronavirus. (Yonhap)

The number of people tested for the coronavirus reached 5,074 as of early Wednesday, with 4,054 of them testing negative, sharply up from 3,535 earlier in the day, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said in a statement. Another 992 are currently in quarantine.

In an enhanced effort to stem spread of the virus, strict quarantine screening was enforced against entrants from Hong Kong and Macao, in addition to mainland China, starting earlier in the day.

The strict screening measure comes after reports that the country's 26th and 27th confirmed patients stayed in China's Guangdong province and traveled via Macao.

Passengers from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macao are required to use separate arrival counters at international airports across the country, according to the KCDC.

They must also write a special quarantine report, filling out health questionnaires to check whether they have a fever or respiratory problems, officials said. They must also disclose any visits to Hubei province -- the epicenter of the global outbreak -- in the past two weeks.

Those who fail to provide their mobile phone numbers and the address of their local accommodations are banned from entering the country, officials said.

Meanwhile, the country's third evacuation flight from the coronavirus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan arrived back in Seoul earlier in the day carrying 147 people comprising South Korean citizens and their Chinese spouses and family members.

The Seoul government said five of them showed symptoms of the coronavirus and were sent to a hospital in central Seoul. Tests will be conducted to check for the infection.

Earlier, the World Health Organization (WHO) unveiled an official name for the novel virus: COVID-19.


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