Four nurses working at Samsung Medical Center, one of the so-called Big-5 hospitals, have tested positive for Covid-19, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said Tuesday.
|Samsung Medical Center in Ilwon-dong, Seoul.|
It was the first time that the new coronavirus infected medical professionals at one of the nation’s largest medical institutions.
"We received a report that one of the nurses at the Department of Cardiology in Samsung Medical Center was confirmed to have Covid-19 virus on Monday," Mayor Park Won-soon said. "After additional tests, the hospital confirmed three more nurses, who worked alongside the presumed first confirmed patient, and there is a chance that more confirmed cases will emerge among the hospital staff."
The municipal health officials have tested 265 of 277 people, including health workers and patients, who contacted the infected nurses, and closed parts of the hospital temporarily, Park added.
The City Hall has also dispatched 18 officers to look into the first outbreak in the hospital. However, authorities have yet to identify the infection route as the hospital said that the nurse had not visited Seoul's famous nightlife district of Itaewon, which recently emerged as the biggest epicenter of cluster infections in the capital city.
According to the health authorities, the nurse in question had participated in the operations conducted by the cardiology, and obstetrics-gynecology departments for two weeks before showing symptoms. Afterward, the nurse did not report for work during the weekend and showed symptoms of a fever on Sunday night. However, authorities speculate that the Covid-19 virus did not spread outside of the operation rooms where the nurse stayed.
"To our relief, the cardiology surgery room where the nurse worked was a negative pressure room," a municipal health official said.
Jung Sun-kyun, head of the Gangnam-gu District Office, said, "At this time, we do not know precisely who was the first to be infected."
The district office expects an additional epidemiological investigation will reveal whether the infection occurred within the hospital or outside of it, Jung added.
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