|Health workers perform a coronavirus test on an elderly patient at a nursing home in Gangnam, Seoul. Courtesy of Gangnam District Office|
By Park Si-soo
Take extra precautions against the coronavirus if you have chronic high blood pressure or diabetes. That's the message from Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) data.
An analysis of coronavirus fatalities shows 86 percent of people who died from the virus in South Korea suffered high blood pressure or diabetes, or a combination of the two. This was based on data from 124 fatalities (as of 3 p.m. Tuesday) announced by the KCDC.
Among them only nine had no pre-existing disease. Of the remainder, 55 suffered from chronic high blood pressure, 41 had diabetes and 34 had Alzheimer's disease, or a combination of these.
Gender seems unlikely to be a critical factor for death given that 63 were male and 61 female. But age seems related ― the fatality rate of patients aged under 50 was below 1 percent, but rose to 1.75 percent among those in their 60s, 6.25 percent among the 70s and 13 percent among the 80s.
The average time from confirmation of infection to death was eight days.
"There was a patient in China who died only five days after infection was confirmed," Prof. Park Eun-chol, from the Yonsei University Medical School, said. "In the early stage of the coronavirus outbreak, many patients came to hospital in a critical condition. But now we can sort out patients in the early stage of the infection and have got to know how to treat them, resulting in a decline of the fatality rate."