The government said that it would cover all expenses spent on fighting the new coronavirus, including those for treating patients.
According to the new regulation announced by the Ministry of Health and Welfare on Wednesday, the government will pay for all expenses related to the outbreak of Wuhan pneumonia, ranging from the screening of suspected cases and treatment of infected patients.
The period of financial support is from the point of isolation to that of release.
The financial support includes investigation and examination at the time of admission. The government will not support medical expenses not related to the new coronavirus infection.
Some people, however, are questioning whether it is appropriate to pass the massive burden of containing an epidemic to taxpayers. Also, several internet users recently took issue with the treatment of the first confirmed patient, who is a Chinese national, with Korean taxpayer money.
Despite the backlash, the Korean government appears set to pay for the patient's treatment to prevent the spread of disease. According to reports, the state funding to cover costs associated with fighting infectious diseases is a common practice around the world as it can help prevent the spread of illness among the general public.
While the ministry did not say how much the move will cost taxpayers, the medical bill can sharply increase to tens of millions of Won, if the patient needs drug treatment, hospital beds, and the specialized equipment required to monitor them.
As of 11 a.m., Wednesday, there were four confirmed cases in Korea. Besides the confirmed cases, the government has screened 97 people suspected of having the new coronavirus that turned out to be negative, while inspecting 15 others.
In China, where the virus originated, the death toll has increased to 132 as of Tuesday, and 1,459 new cases were confirmed, according to China's National Health Commission.