|A warning notice about China coronavirus, a pneumonia-like illness, at the entrance to the emergency room at Incheon Medical Center, west of Seoul, Monday. /Yonhap|
By Bahk Eun-ji
The first case of China coronavirus has been confirmed in Korea amid growing concerns that the disease will spread here, according to the health authorities, Monday.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said a Chinese woman, who lives in Wuhan, the capital of China's central Hubei Province, where the virus appears to have originated, tested positive for the virus when she arrived at Incheon International Airport from the city, Jan. 20.
The woman showed symptoms of the illness, including high fever and respiratory problems, the KCDC said.
Following confirmation of the case, the disease control center said it had elevated its alert level by one notch and ordered the local authorities to strengthen monitoring of the illness.
"The patient was identified in the quarantine stage so there was no exposure to the community," the KCDC said in a statement. "Passengers and aircraft crew, who came in to contact with her, have been notified and will be actively monitored by their local public health center."
Five people who accompanied the confirmed patient, have so far shown no symptoms.
Active monitoring means checking people for fever and respiratory symptoms for 14 days from the date of the last contact with the confirmed patient.
Although it is the first time that a confirmed case of the pneumonia-like illness has occurred in Korea, the number of reported cases showing symptoms has been increasing over the past three days.
Seven people have so far reported the symptoms. Three are in quarantine and four were released after being confirmed to have influenza.
Fifteen more people were also reported to be under active monitoring.
The Chinese government has reported 198 confirmed cases in Wuhan, two in Beijing and one in Shenzhen in southeastern China. Two people have been confirmed in Thailand and one in Japan. All three visted Wuhan.
Beijing said the new type of coronavirus was not contagious from person to person, but the World Health Organization was not ruling out transmission between people under certain conditions, the KCDC said.