The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday that it has confirmed two additional coronavirus patients.
The fifth confirmed patient is a 32-year-old businessman who visited the city of Wuhan and returned to Korea last Friday, while the sixth confirmed patient is a 56- year-old citizen who was in contact with the third confirmed patient.
In the case of the sixth patient, the agency said that the patient’s case marks the country’s first case of local transmission for the new coronavirus as the man did not travel to Wuhan. “The fifth patient is currently admitted at Seoul Medical Center, while the sixth patient is receiving treatment at Seoul National University Hospital,” the KCDC said.
The agency added that it is currently conducting an epidemiological investigation on the two newly confirmed patients.
With the additional two cases, Korea has now confirmed six new coronavirus patients. The nation is also sorting through the 240 suspected cases as of Thursday. Of the 240 suspected cases, the agency has cleared 199 after they tested negative for the new coronavirus and are testing 41.
KCDC said the four confirmed patients are generally stable and that the first three are showing improvement. The fourth confirmed patient received oxygen therapy after showing symptoms of pneumonia, but he was also known to be in stable condition.
"We are also checking all entrants from the Chinese city of Wuhan," the KCDC said. "They were 1,160 Koreans and 1,831 foreigners, who entered Korea from Wuhan from Jan 13-26 plus 32 with duplicated entry records.”
Of the 1,160 Koreans, 75 have left, and 1,085 remain in Korea. Out of the 1,085 who are staying, the agency monitored 701 people and tested 10 of them who showed symptoms of the new coronavirus.
Among 1,831 foreigners, 1,433 departed Korea, and the agency is tracking down and investigating the other 398 who are currently staying in Korea.
KCDC also will test Korean citizens who are scheduled to return home from Wuhan on Thursday night. "When the citizens arrive at the temporary living facilities, we will test them for the new coronavirus," KCDC Director Jung Eun-kyeong said. "We will leave no stone unturned by checking for infections in asymptomatic conditions."
KCDC officials said they are stepping up measures to expand diagnostic tests. The agency has completed the verification process for the new coronavirus genetic test, which reduces the time required for testing to a quarter of the previous one, and will distribute the latest test methods to 18 health institutes nationwide from Friday.
It will apply to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety for approving the new test kit so that it can set up the rapid inspection system in private medical institutions early next month.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization said it plans to hold another emergency committee on the new coronavirus on Thursday.
KCDC Director Jung said her agency would also carefully watch for changes in the international situation, such as the WHO Emergency Committee's declaration of the Public Health Emergency of International Concern while continuing to maintain its current total response system for the health and safety of Koreans.
"Early discovery is of paramount importance to block community dissemination of the new coronavirus," Jung said.
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