1st Viral Pneumonia Case from China Confirmed in Korea

  • By Yang Ji-ho

    January 09, 2020 11:21

    A 36-year-old Chinese woman here has been diagnosed with a mysterious strain of viral pneumonia after she recently visited the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the disease is causing a health scare.

    The Korea Centers of Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday it has quarantined her at Seoul National University Hospital in Bundang, Gyeonggi Province while also testing a coworker who visited Wuhan on business with her from Dec. 13 to 17, as well as medical staff at the hospital.

    Health authorities are on high alert because the Lunar New Year on Jan. 24-27 will bring floods of Chinese visitors. A KCDC spokesman said the patient was also tested for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome but the test came back negative.

    There are eight direct flights per week between Wuhan and Incheon International Airport. "We're stepping up screening of all those who entered the country from Wuhan," the spokesman added. The KCDC will share data on arrivals from the Chinese city with hospitals across the country.

    Travelers walk past a thermal imaging camera in the arrival area of Pyeongtaek port in Gyeonggi Province on Wednesday. /Newsis

    Last week Wuhan city health authorities announced that 27 patients had tested positive for viral pneumonia and were quarantined. The first case is presumed to have occurred on Dec. 12.

    There were initial fears that this was a fresh outbreak of SARS, but Chinese health authorities suspect that the latest case is a new respiratory syndrome. In 2002 and 2003, 775 patients died from SARS in seven countries including Canada, China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

    In Wuhan, the number of patients had increased to 59 as of Sunday, with seven of them in serious condition. Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan have also increased checks after 21, eight, and seven cases of the mystery disease were confirmed there. None of the patients have died.

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