Wuhan virus: South Korea reports fourth coronavirus case

A medical official checks the temperature of a patient at a hospital in Seoul on Jan 27, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A 55-year-old Korean man, who had visited Wuhan in central China, has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. He showed no symptoms of infection when he was screened at an airport upon his return to Korea on Jan 20.

The man received treatment at a medical facility on Jan 21 for cold symptoms. On Saturday (Jan 25), he developed symptoms of a high fever and aching muscles, and was put under close observation. He was diagnosed with pneumonia Sunday.

The man was confirmed to have carried out normal activities in public after he contracted the virus, according to the agency. An in-depth inspection following his activities is underway.

A total of 57 people had shown symptoms of the virus as of Monday afternoon. One person was awaiting test results, and the remaining 56 people have tested negative for the virus.

The latest case comes a day after a 54-year-old Korean resident of Wuhan, who returned to Korea on Jan 20, tested positive, in the third confirmed case of the coronavirus here.

The man also showed no symptoms during the screening for the virus at the airport and had led normal activities - such as receiving treatment at a plastic surgery clinic, dining at restaurants and staying in a hotel in southern Seoul before visiting his mother in Ilsan, Gyeonggin Province - without being identified and monitored by health authorities.

The government has identified 74 people who he came into contact with. One of them had symptoms of infection and was placed in isolation but was tested negative. The rest are under self-imposed isolation and close observation by health authorities, according to the KCDCP.

Two other cases - a 35-year-old Chinese woman and a South Korean man - were confirmed on Jan 20 and Friday, respectively.

Remote video URL

The Korean government has stepped up efforts to contain the spread of the virus by tightening checks on passengers entering Korea and expanding the range of people to be put under quarantine and on monitoring lists among those who visited China.

All of China is now classified as a "coronavirus risk area," with travellers coming from the country required to fill out health forms upon arrival. If a person from Wuhan or nearby areas shows any signs of a fever or breathing problems, he or she will be placed under quarantine, starting Tuesday. Those who have visited other parts of China and show symptoms of pneumonia will be put in isolation.

Public fears have mounted in Korea, with more than 480,000 people having flocked to the presidential office's website to sign petitions for banning the entry of Chinese.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.