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(LEAD) S. Korea to focus more on curing severe coronavirus cases

All News 13:54 March 02, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS more info and latest tally in paras 6-7, 10-11)

SEOUL, March 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korean health authorities said Monday that they will focus more on actively curing severe cases of the novel coronavirus such as those involving elders and patients with chronic health issues.

Under the new response and treatment guidelines, all COVID-19 patients will receive customized treatment depending on the severity of their symptoms, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

Most coronavirus patients will receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms, while severe cases may require hospitalization and intensive support such as mechanical ventilation.

A health worker checks his protective glasses before starting his work in Daegu on March 1, 2020. (Yonhap)

"More than 80 percent of coronavirus patients are not severe and can be fully cured," said KCDC Director Jeong Eun-kyeong. "However, more active treatment is needed for elders and those with underlying diseases as they could become seriously ill or even die."

The KCDC said COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms will be quarantined at community treatment centers, and they will only be transferred to hospitals when their symptoms deteriorate.

The country's first community treatment center opened in the southeastern city of Daegu, the epicenter of virus outbreak here, on Monday.

The center, located in downtown Daegu, is staffed by 17 medical workers, including four doctors, and is capable of admitting up to 160 COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms.

Those with severe symptoms will be transferred to bigger hospitals or COVID-19-only hospitals across the country that can provide intensive-care treatment at negative-pressure isolation wards, they added.

The measure comes amid concerns that the country's hardest-hit regions such as Daegu are short of hospital beds and medical staff.

The country has reported a total of 4,212 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Monday, with 3,705 cases in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, according to the KCDC.

Four deaths were reported in Daegu on Monday, bringing the country's death toll to 26. Several of the city's recent coronavirus-related deaths occurred when the patients were under self-quarantine while awaiting hospital beds.

khj@yna.co.kr
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