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(LEAD) Coronavirus 'super spreader' in S. Korea raises concerns of more cases coming

All News 14:05 February 19, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in last 4 paras; CHANGES photo)

SEOUL, Feb. 19 (Yonhap) -- The spread of the new coronavirus in South Korea may be accelerating, with the country's probable first "super spreader" pointing to more cases coming.

The country's 31st coronavirus patient, who resides in Daegu, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, is judged to have infected at least 11 others, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) on Wednesday.

A preliminary epidemiological investigation shows that the potential super spreader attended the same church service as 10 of the newly confirmed patients and had person-to-person contact with one person at a Daegu hospital.

The 61-year-old South Korean woman, confirmed to be infected with the virus Tuesday, also visited Seoul late last month, and went about her everyday life, using public transportation among other things.

What constitutes a super spreader is not clearly defined, but people can be labeled such if they transmit the disease to more than 10 others.

There have been several reports of "super spreaders" globally, including in Singapore and Britain, who are allegedly responsible for disproportionately infecting a large number of people with COVID-19.

A worker disinfects a church in Daegu, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Feb. 19, 2020. The country's 31st patient attends the church, with 10 patients judged to be infected at the site. (Yonhap)

The public health authorities said earlier it is still unclear how the 31st patient contracted the virus as she had not made contact with other confirmed patients or been abroad recently.

They are trying to find out how two other patients who reside near the city have been infected, as those who had made contact with them unwittingly contracted the illness.

The health authorities said they are not considering a lockdown on the city as the situation is very manageable.

South Korea reported 15 new virus cases earlier in the day, bringing the total number of infections here to 46. The country has released 16 virus patients from quarantine so far after they made full recoveries, the KCDC said.


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