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Alert high over mass virus infections at hospitals

All News 13:52 March 06, 2020

SEOUL, March 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's heath authorities on Friday remained on high alert over the increasing numbers of mass virus infections at hospitals and other health facilities as they struggle to contain the spread of the potentially fatal illness.

According to city health officials in Seongnam, south of Seoul, a general hospital there has temporarily halted some of its operations after eight staff members and patients were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the latest in a series of cluster of infections at medical facilities.

A 77-year-old woman who came to Bundang Jesaeng Hospital's emergency center on Sunday with pneumonia symptoms has been confirmed to have been infected and may have inadvertently spread the illness.

Virus outbreaks at medical facilities are of grave concern here as health care-related infections pose a real threat to society as a whole and to people suffering from other diseases that impair their immune systems.

Hospital staff at Bundang Jesaeng Hospital in Seongnam, south of Seoul, prepare to check people with novel coronavirus symptoms at a dedicated screening facility, on March 6, 2020. (Yonhap)

Eunpyeong St. Mary's Hospital in Seoul had to suspend some treatments after an employee working for a partner company was infected with the new virus. Following the first case, 14 infections have been linked to the hospital so far.

The hospital has checked 2,700 people, including doctors and nurses, with all testing negative. St. Mary's is currently in talks with local authorities to resume full-fledged operations.

The mass virus outbreak at Daenam Hospital, in Cheongdo County, 320 kilometers southeast of Seoul, has caused considerable concern, as the cluster infection at its psychiatric ward has resulted in numerous deaths.

A total of 119 patients and staff members at the hospital were confirmed to have contracted the illness, and at least seven patients in the ward have died from complications caused by the virus.

The Milal Love House, a facility for people with physical disabilities, in Chilgok, 280 kilometers southeast of Seoul, reported 24 confirmed cases after its first infection on Feb. 24.

Authorities have placed all people who may have been exposed in quarantine.

Asiad Hospital, a nursing hospital in Busan, the country's second-largest city, also said earlier that two staff members were infected, although the remaining 300 employees and patients have not been found to have contracted the virus.

South Korea has reported 6,284 confirmed cases of the novel virus and 43 deaths so far.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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