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(LEAD) S. Korean woman reinfected with coronavirus after recovery

Welfare/Medicine 16:34 February 29, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 5-6, 10, 14)

SEOUL, Feb. 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported the first case of reinfection by the new coronavirus Saturday amid mounting concerns over the rapid rise in virus infections here.

A South Korean woman tested positive for COVID-19 a second time, even after being released from quarantine, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

The 73-year-old woman, who was diagnosed with the virus earlier in the month, was released from a hospital on Feb. 22 after making a full recovery.

She started showed symptoms again Thursday and was found to have contracted the illness again Friday, the public health agency said.

"People normally would have become immune against the virus after being infected for the first time. The patient, however, may have a weak immune system due to her age," a KCDC official said.

The official added it is also possible the virus was not fully eradicated from the patient in the first place.

This is the first time in South Korea that a person has been infected a second time with COVID-19 after being discharged.

The woman had not traveled abroad, although her son and daughter-in-law had recently been to China's Guangdong Province, and both had contracted the virus.

Local health authorities said that the woman claimed she had stayed indoors after her release.

The KCDC said it is carrying out a close observation on the case and added there were 10 similar cases reported in China, the global epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak.

South Korea reported a whopping 594 additional cases of the new coronavirus to bring total infections to 2,931 as of Saturday morning.

So far, 17 virus patients have died from the virus that emerged in China late last year.

South Korea said it will review revising its guidelines for people being released from quarantine following the new infection.

A health worker wearing a protective suit enters the Ministry of Personnel Management in Sejong City, 130 kilometers south of Seoul, on Feb. 28, 2020, after an employee tested positive for the novel coronavirus. (Yonhap)


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