Lee Young-sang, president of the Bundang Jesaeng Hospital, was found to have tested positive for the new coronavirus (COVID-19) on Wednesday.
Also, he attended a meeting with 23 chiefs of university hospitals and tertiary hospitals in the Seoul metropolitan area, presided over by Vice Minister of Health and Welfare Kim Kang-lip.
As Lee became a confirmed patient, the 23 hospital heads and Vice Health and Welfare Minister Kim who contacted Lee followed the guidelines by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) and went into preventive quarantine.
To discuss expanding treatment wards for severe patients and gather clinicians’ opinions, the KCDC and the government held four meetings with large hospitals in Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province and those outside the area from last Thursday to Tuesday. Health and Welfare Minister Park Neung-hoo and Vice Minister Kim chaired the meetings.
Lee of Bundang Jesaeng Hospital took part in the second meeting on Friday, chaired by the vice health minister and attended by government officials and 23 university and tertiary hospitals in the Seoul metropolitan area.
Not all the participants of the meeting were known to have worn face masks, sources said.
As Lee’s infection was confirmed, the health and welfare ministry also urged the participants to get tested through text messages on Wednesday.
Under the KCDC’s guidelines, people who contacted with a confirmed patient must not only get tested for COVID-19 but quarantine themselves for 14 days.
Healthcare workers and people who closely contacted a COVID-19 patient such as family should self-quarantine, and get screened for the virus infection, according to the guidelines. The authorities can lift the quarantine only when they test negative for the virus.
Lee developed symptoms such as cough and runny nose on Monday. On March 5, when Bundang Jesaeng Hospital reported the first COVID-19 patient, Lee and 1,800 hospital employees got tested, and Lee’s result was negative. However, Lee tested positive on Tuesday.
KCDC said it would reveal whether Vice Minister Kim had COVID-19 symptoms and whether he had close contact with Lee, after conducting an epidemiological investigation.
As a preventive measure, the vice health minister and eight other officials of the ministry will quarantine themselves, the government said.
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