(ATTN: UPDATES with more info in paras 3-6)
SEOUL, June 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has reported its first two suspected cases of monkeypox, public health officials said Wednesday.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said two probable cases were found Tuesday and diagnostic tests are being conducted.
KDCA said one of the suspected patients was a foreigner, who arrived in the country on Monday, and another was South Korean, who arrived on Tuesday.
According to officials, the foreigner visited a hospital in Busan, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Tuesday after having a sore throat, skin lesions and other possible symptoms of the monkeypox virus and has been admitted there after hospital officials reported it as a possible case.
The South Korean arrived at Incheon International Airport from Germany around 4 p.m. Tuesday and reportedly showed symptoms two days before arriving. The person was admitted to Incheon Medical Center in Incheon, west of Seoul, after arriving.
Both were in isolation treatment at their respective hospitals.
The virus, traditionally confined to regions in Central and Western Africa, can cause symptoms that include fever, chills, rash and lesions.
The country has been vigilant against a potential inflow of monkeypox as an increasing number of countries have reported cases of the viral disease and international travel has increased following the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions.
Health authorities have designated monkeypox as a second-degree infectious disease out of a four-tier system. Currently, 22 contagious diseases including COVID-19, cholera and chickenpox are included in the same category.
Officials said last week the government is seeking to import the antiviral drug tecovirimat for 500 people next month.
Monkeypox patients will be treated in isolation in specialized hospitals and a 21-day mandatory self-isolation period is being considered for those who have a high risk of transmission after being in close contact with monkeypox patients, health authorities said.
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