Seoul broadens monitoring scope to 28 countries

Shim Hyun-tai  Published 2020.02.06  18:05  Updated 2020.02.06 18:05


The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said Thursday it would expand the targets of its surveillance of suspected new coronavirus patients to people from 28 countries where confirmed cases occurred.

Under the KCDC’s revised case definition, people who will be regarded as suspected patients and receive tests will be those who have a fever or respiratory symptoms within 14 days after visiting China, those who contacted such people and show similar symptoms within 14 days, and those who enter Korea after traveling countries where confirmed cases happened and show such symptoms.

The government will operate an additional 50 private inspection facilities rated and certificated by KCDC, including consigned ones. Besides, medical workers will have to wear Level-D protection devices and gather samples from the patients' lower and upper respiratory tracts.

Related government ministries and KCDC will hasten to research and develop urgent tasks to contain the new coronavirus, the agency said. The tasks include developing a rapid diagnostic method for use outside the laboratory, and recreating medicines effective in treating infection among the verified drugs.

"Among 885 patients under investigation, we have confirmed 23 patients, released 693 from isolation based on negative test response, and testing 169 as of Thursday morning," KCDC Director Jung Eun-kyeong said.

The medical community had called for expanding the case definitions to prevent the spread in local communities and provide more thorough confirmation. There were cases that medical institutions missed the new coronavirus patients at hospitals due to the narrow case definition, which limited suspicions only to those who visited China.

"Our request was aimed to prevent the spread in local communities and hospitals as the virus was transmitting through those who visited Japan and Thailand," the Korean Hospital Association said earlier in the day. "We expect the altered case definition will help prevent the spread through more active and thorough individual confirmation.

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