January 31, 2020 11:27
The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Korea has risen to seven, with two new cases reported on Thursday and one on Friday, including one that appears to be the first human-to-human transmission here.
The 56-year-old apparently caught the virus when he came into contact with the third coronavirus patient, who had walked the streets of southern Seoul and Ilsan north of the capital. He had not been to the outbreak's epicenter of Wuhan, China himself, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
There have been 10 confirmed cases of human-to-human transmission in Germany, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam.
One of the latest victims is a friend of the third confirmed case, and the two had lunch together for about two hours in a restaurant in Gangnam.
Another is a 32-year-old Korean man who returned from Wuhan on Jan. 24. He had respiratory problems and was placed in quarantine after testing positive for the virus on Thursday. The latest victim is a 28-year-old Korean man who also recently visited Wuhan.
Health experts do not rule out further transmissions here. Lee Jong-koo, a former head of the KCDC said, "It's lucky that the cases were being monitored, but this could also signal the start of the disease spreading in Korea. The entire public needs to help stem the spread of the disease."
Meanwhile, the first batch of Koreans evacuated from Wuhan arrived at Gimpo airport on Friday morning. Out of about 700 Korean nationals who wanted to return, about half or 367 Koreans managed to board a charter flight.
They will be quarantined in Asan, South Chungcheong Province and Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province for the maximum incubation period of two weeks.
The government here is seeking to send another charter plane to bring back the rest.
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