- Korea raises infectious disease alert level from caution to alert
President Moon Jae-in on Monday called for working up a plan to check all entrants from the Chinese city of Wuhan amid growing public concern over the coronavirus. Moon’s order comes after the country confirmed its fourth patient earlier in the day.
|President Moon Jae-in chaired a meeting of senior secretaries at Cheong Wa Dae after the nation saw its fourth confirmed patient on Monday.|
“President Moon stressed the need for preemptive measures to prevent the situation from worsening through secondary infection during a meeting with senior secretaries," Senior Secretary for Public communication Yoon Do-han said. “The president also ordered his staff to mobilize military doctors and nurses and utilize military facilities, if necessary.”
The President noted that the Cheong Wa Dae National Crisis Management Center served as a control tower and led the entire situation during the Lunar New Year holiday. He ordered the control tower to continue to grasp local and international situations so that it can issue orders properly promptly.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare also raised its infectious disease alert level a notch from “caution” to “alert” after the nation confirmed its fourth patient.
Infectious disease alert levels are divided into four stages – interest (blue), caution (yellow), alert (orange) and serious (red). Alert is the third-highest readiness level in the four-tiered system and signifies the limited spread of disease in the country.
“There will be a redoubling of quarantine inspections with more efforts made to prevent the spread of the virus and tighter management of people suspected of having been infected,” the ministry said.
Following the increase in the alert level, the ministry activated a committee for the coronavirus and held its first meeting, headed by the Minister Park Neung-hoo. During the meeting, the committee decided to actively promote quarantine capacity in Korea, block the inflow of patients through early response, and detect suspected patients and manage contacts.
It also decided to deploy 250 officials immediately from the ministry, the Ministry of Defense, the National Police Agency, and local governments to quarantine sites.
Also, the committee plans to take proactive measures to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, assigning screening clinics to health centers and local medical centers in each city and district.
“We will make every effort to prevent the influx and spread of new coronavirus infections in Korea,” Minister Park said after the meeting.” To do so, however, the cooperation between the medical community and the people is needed.”
Medical institutions will check the patient’s travel history in China, screen for any symptoms, and make sure to prevent infections in the hospital. Also, in case of suspicion of infectious disease after visiting China, Park stressed that the patients should first call the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) hotline or their public health centers," Park said.
Earlier in the day, the KCDC announced that the fourth confirmed patient returned from Wuhan, China, on Jan. 20 and visited a domestic medical institution for treatment as flu symptoms developed. Then he revisited the institution on Jan. 25 as muscle pain and high-grade fever occurred.
“After reporting to the public health center and actively monitoring the patient, the patient was screened because of worsened muscle pain and diagnosed with pneumonia and classified as the patient under investigation (PUI),” it went on to say.
Afterward, the patient was quarantined in Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, a nationally designated hospital, and was confirmed to have the new coronavirus, the KCDC added.
The agency added that it is currently conducting an in-depth epidemiological investigation of the patient’s travel routes and plans to present its findings on Tuesday.