The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) on Tuesday confirmed the nation’s 31st patient of new coronavirus, a 61-year-old Korean female without records of international travel.
The 31st patient has had no contact with the existing patients, either. She visited a public health center in Daegu and found her infection as the test result came positive. She was transported to Daegu Medical Center, a nationally designated hospital, and quarantined. Her specific condition has yet to be announced.
The government is conducting an epidemiological investigation into the patient to identify her infection routes and contacts.
As the infection routes of the 29th, 30th and 31st patients are not known, concerns are growing about the possibility of community-acquired contagion. The government changed the guidelines to test any patient who shows pneumonia symptoms regardless of international travel history, and included the new coronavirus in constant flu surveillance list.
The list contains influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus, metapneumovirus, rhinovirus, parainfluenza virus, bocavirus, and coronavirus. Early diagnosis of the infection is crucial to stop the virus from spreading because the propagation of the new coronavirus shows few signs of decline.
Korea, which has sent three charter planes to evacuate 848 Korean residents in Hubei province, China, will fly a Presidential plane to Japan to bring back Koreans aboard a Japanese cruise ship. The plane will depart from Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, on Tuesday afternoon and arrive at Gimpo Airport on Wednesday morning.
The government plans to transport five of the 14 Koreans -- four who wanted to return home and one Japanese spouse -- on the Japanese cruise ship, Diamond Princess. According to KCDC, none of the 14 Koreans have shown signs of infection yet.
The health authorities will thoroughly screen the new arrivals and quarantine them at a facility close to the Incheon International Airport for 14 days.
Meanwhile, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital discharged two more patients from quarantine on Tuesday morning as they showed negative responses to two consecutive tests taken after 48 hours. They are the 12th and 14th patients, a Chinese couple. The number of fully recovered patients rises to 12.
With the discharge of 12 patients from the hospitals, Korea now has 19 patients in quarantine and 957 patients undergoing screening. There are 73,295 confirmed patients worldwide, and 1,873 among them have died.
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