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Virus fatalities mostly elderly patients with underlying diseases

All News 09:37 March 03, 2020

SEOUL, March 3 (Yonhap) -- Most victims of the novel coronavirus quickly spreading across South Korea were elderly people with preexisting health issues and special care is necessary to reduce further virus-related fatalities, health authorities here said Tuesday.

Some 599 new cases of COVID-19 brought the nation's total number of infections here to 4,335, with 28 deaths, as of late Monday, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). Six additional deaths were reported in the southeastern city of Daegu, the epicenter of virus outbreak here.

The additional deaths reported on Monday were all of people in their age 60's to 80's or of those with preexisting illnesses.

Four deaths occurred during treatment at hospitals in Daegu or surrounding North Gyeongsang Province, officials said. Further investigation is under way into the country's 27th and 28th deaths.

Soldiers disinfect the ground outside City Hall in the southeastern city of Daegu, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in South Korea, on March 2, 2020. (Yonhap)

KCDC data showed that the mortality rate of virus patients aged 80 or more was 3.7 percent, compared with an average mortality rate of 0.5 percent.

"Those at most risk are people older than 65 years old with preexisting diseases and the mortality rate for them is exceptionally high," KCDC Director-General Jeong Eun-kyeong told reporters.

The KCDC said the underlying diseases in 22 cases included cancer, kidney failure and diabetes, and most of the deceased suffered from at least one preexisting disease, sometimes two.

The country's third COVID-19-related death -- of a man in his 40s in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province -- was the only one involving no underlying health issues, according to the agency.

The KCDC said more than 80 percent of coronavirus cases are not severe and can be fully cured.

To minimize deaths from the virus, the KCDC revised guidelines to allow critically ill patients to be swiftly treated in so-called negative-pressure rooms at hospitals starting Monday.

Thus far, virus patients with mild or moderate symptoms had also been allowed to receive treatment at such facilities, which are designed to prevent infectious diseases from spreading within hospitals.

Patients with mild or moderate symptoms will be admitted to state-run isolation facilities, according to the KCDC.


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