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S. Korea on high alert to prevent spread of Wuhan coronavirus

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

South Korea‘s public health protection authorities said Saturday the country is maintaining a high level of vigilance to prevent the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus as people celebrate the four-day Lunar New Year holiday.

The country reported a confirmed case of the new coronavirus that causes pneumonia-like sickness Monday and another Friday, and said it has checked 32 other people for the new coronavirus so far with all testing negative.

“The government is checking all people who are complaining of symptoms with no coronavirus incidents being identified in the past 24 hours,” said a Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) official. She added that none of the 69 people who are under close observation after having come in contact with the country’s second confirmed case are showing signs of being ill.

The first confirmed case involved a 35-year-old Chinese woman who arrived at Incheon International Airport, the country‘s main gateway located west of Seoul, from Wuhan with the second being a South Korean who has worked in the city in Hubei Province since April 2019 that is seen as the epicenter of the latest outbreak, and returned home after feeling unwell. The 55-year-old man arrived in South Korea on Wednesday with a fever.

The KCDC said the second patient is in stable condition with doctors treating him for a sore throat.

Airports across the nation have set up checkpoints to screen passengers from China and other countries for signs of illness, with local authorities accelerating quarantine efforts to contain the virus as a countless number of people visit relatives back home or travel abroad. Seoul earlier advised its citizens not to visit the central Chinese city at the epicenter of the disease

The KCDC stressed citizens should follow strict personal hygiene rules whether they are in the country or traveling abroad, especially since large numbers of Chinese tourists are visiting South Korea during the holiday period. The Lunar New Year is celebrated by both Korean and Chinese people.

The agency said people feeling ill should immediately contact its emergency call center by dialing “1339” to receive assistance.

It also asked people to wash their hands frequently, cover their mouths when coughing and if they have respiratory problems wear a mask.

Common symptoms of the coronavirus, thought to have originated in Wuhan, central China, include fever, sore throat and breathing difficulties, with more acute cases being chills and muscle pain.

Health experts said that elderly people and those with underlying disorders should be more careful not to contract the new type of virus.

China announced that the virus has killed 41 people so far, with 1,287 confirmed to be infected, amid concerns that the pneumonia-like illness is spreading quickly and widely.

Beijing has already stressed it will mobilize all its resources to contain the disease and even took steps to close off around a dozen cities and famous tourist attractions to control the spread.

Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Macao, Hong Kong, France and the United States all have people infected with the new virus. Media outlets also reported that Nepal has a confirmed case.

The new coronavirus, first reported in China on Dec. 31, was originally believed to have been passed onto humans by animals but is now known to be transmissible person to person, although victims may be contracting the virus by coming in contact with saliva and other bodily fluids rather than through airborne factors. (Yonhap)
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