Jan. 8 (UPI) -- South Korea is investigating a patient showing symptoms of pneumonia following a sudden outbreak in central China in December.
Seoul's centers for disease control and prevention said Wednesday the patient is a 36-year-old woman, a Chinese national, who had returned from a trip to the city of Wuhan, where dozens of people fell ill after contracting a mysterious flu-like disease, News 1 reported.
Health authorities in South Korea said the patient is undergoing treatment at Seoul National University Hospital in Bundang, Gyeonggi Province. During her visit to the Chinese city, the patient did not visit Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, where dozens of Chinese vendors have been hospitalized after exhibiting severe respiratory problems.
The cause of the patient's illness is unknown, raising concerns the virus is identical to the cause of the outbreak in China. Korean authorities said the final diagnosis would be available in six to seven days.
The patient, a long-term Chinese resident in South Korea, began to show symptoms, including coughing and a swollen throat, upon returning from China on Dec. 31, according to South Korean news service Newsis. She was admitted to a hospital last Thursday, and was diagnosed with pneumonia at Hallym University Kangnam Sacred Heart Hospital. The hospital notified the government on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, health authorities said the patient has tested negative for nine kinds of known respiratory viruses.
Following the outbreak in China, the World Health Organization said it has not yet identified the cause of the outbreak in Wuhan.
"There are many potential causes of viral pneumonia, many of which are more common than severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus," the WHO said last week.
SARS killed hundreds of people in Hong Kong and mainland China from 2002 to 2003.
Lee Jae-gap, a professor of medicine at the Hallym University hospital, told News 1 the probability the patient's virus will become a serious epidemic in Korea is low.
Lee also said most pneumonia could be prevented with a vaccination, according to the report.