|A staff member carries out disinfection at the Korea University Anam Hospital Regional Emergency Medical Center in Seoul, Sunday, after the 29th coronavirus patient visited there and tested positive. /Yonhap|
Gov't steps up measures for Chinese students
By Bahk Eun-ji
The government stepped up its efforts to prevent the further spread of the novel coronavirus here, Sunday, announcing a set of measures that includes testing all hospital in-patients who have pneumonia.
With the re-opening of schools in March, the education ministry also said that it will allow universities to ask Chinese students who have yet to come to Korea to consider taking a leave of absence for the first semester this year.
"Chinese students still in China will be recommended to take online courses or to take a leave of absence for the first semester if they have visa problems or don't have a domestic residence in Korea," Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae said during a press briefing at the Government Complex Seoul.
The series of measures come as the government confirmed an additional case of the 2019-nCoV (COVID-19) infection Sunday, bringing the total to 29, following a five-day pause.
|Education Minster Yoo Eun-hae, fourth from left, announces measures concerning Chinese students who have yet to come to Korea for the new semester during a press briefing at the Government Complex Seoul, Sunday. Yonhap|
According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), the latest patient is an 82-year-old man, who had not traveled overseas nor been in contact with any confirmed patients. He first visited a local hospital in his neighborhood Saturday, and went to the emergency center at Korea University Anam Hospital for a heart problem the next day where he tested positive for 2019-nCoV. The emergency center is now closed.
The KCDC said the man did not go to a separate screening clinic to be checked for the virus because he had no symptoms ― fever or respiratory problems ― when he arrived at the Anam regional emergency center. However, doctors there ran the coronavirus test after diagnosing him as suffering from pneumonia.
The patient is now under quarantine at Seoul National University Hospital.
|Evacuees from Wuhan, China, epicenter of the novel coronavirus, arrive at Cheonan-Asan Station in South Chungcheong Province, Sunday, to take the KTX to return home after the end of their two-week quarantine at the Police Human Resources Development Institute in Asan. Korea Times photo by Oh Dae-geun|
The Ministry of Health and Welfare said it is considering repatriating all Korean nationals aboard a Japanese cruise ship in Yokohama Port since earlier this month. On the Diamond Princess, 14 Koreans ― nine passengers and five crew members ― have remained onboard ship. None of them have tested positive for the virus so far.
The Japanese government announced that it plans to release passengers who test negative for the virus from Wednesday, but the Korean government plans to evacuate the Korean nationals before then.
"We will check on whether their intention is to return home first, and cooperate with the Japanese government in order to facilitate this," Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said during the briefing.
Meanwhile, a second group of 334 Koreans who had been evacuated from Wuhan in China were released from their two-week quarantine Sunday after testing negative for 2019-nCoV. The first group of evacuees was released Saturday.
The government sent three chartered flights to evacuate people from Wuhan, and they have been kept in isolation in Asan, South Chungcheong Province, and Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province. Of the 701 people airlifted in the first two flights, only two were infected. The third chartered flight brought back 147 people Wednesday, none of whom have tested positive to date.
All the released evacuees have been told to check themselves carefully for symptoms of the viral infection and to report any developments to the health authorities immediately.
The KCDC also said it would decide whether to ask police to monitor a person for violating the self-quarantine rule, and possibly infecting a relative. The agency said the 15th patient was a relative of the 20th patient, who tested negative at the beginning of the month.
"It is true that the 15th patient had meal with the 20th patient while he was under self-quarantine. It seems it was difficult for them to abide by the rule because they lived in the same building," KCDC director Jung Eun-kyeong told a press briefing at the Government Complex Sejong.
The KCDC said nine patients who had been under quarantine have been released after recovering. Twenty patients being treated for the virus at state-designated hospitals are in a stable condition, while one patient has been receiving oxygen to alleviate pneumonia symptoms although their condition is not considered serious. The condition of the 29th patient has not been made public.