S. Korea steps up coronavirus monitoring, quarantine measures

2020.02.04 09:24:02 | 2020.02.04 09:24:44

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The South Korean government said Monday it will introduce more stringent quarantine, preventive and monitoring measures to put an end to the spread of the new coronavirus by expanding the scope of people subject to diagnostic testing and self-quarantine.

The country`s health authorities said it will start testing everyone who shows symptoms like fever and cough within 14 days after returning from China regardless of signs of pneumonia. Also, people with suspected symptoms regardless of their visiting path can receive examinations at the discretion of doctors at hospital checkpoints.

So far, only those with pneumonia-like conditions who travelled to the Chinese city of Wuhan or the surrounding Hubei province have been tested. The government will also place those who have been in close or casual contact with a confirmed case into self-quarantine for 14 days. So far, those who have been in causal contact with a confirmed case have been monitored by a health center, but not self-quarantined.

The measure comes after confirmed patient No. 6 who was in casual contact with confirmed patient No. 3 was known to had spent a long time at public gatherings during a monitoring period before testing positive.

Also, the government will ban entry to all foreign nationals who visited China`s Hubei province in the past 14 days. The ban will go into effect at 00:00 on Feb. 4.

A special disembarkation process and a designated entry zone for Chinese nationals will also be implemented after a separate space is in place with other systems including communication network and protective equipment.

Meanwhile, Korean Medical Association, the largest group of medical doctors in Korea, issued a statement that the government should expand the danger zone currently limited to Hubei to entire China, and raise the infectious disease warning level to seriousness, the highest level on the four-tiered system. The government last week upped the level to “orange”, the third highest level.

By Chung Seul-gi and Minu Kim

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