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Seoul expands coronavirus checks to all China passengers

People in China, where 26 people have died of coronavirus, wear protective respiratory masks. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
People in China, where 26 people have died of coronavirus, wear protective respiratory masks. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 24 (UPI) -- South Korea is taking no chances on the deadly new coronavirus originating from Wuhan, China, and is to screen all passengers arriving from China ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays.

Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday at a press briefing Seoul is conducting health inspections for all visitors from China, News 1 reported.

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"We plan to expand [the inspections] even more," Jeong said, the same day a second confirmed patient was found to have boarded a flight from Shanghai.

Jeong also said South Korean health authorities have concluded the SARS-like epidemic does spread through human-to-human contact. Earlier in the month, Chinese authorities had suggested the disease only spreads from infected animals to humans, a statement later overruled by China's National Health Commission.

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South Korea is bracing itself for a large number of Chinese travelers during the holidays. It is estimated an average of 32,000 people will arrive from China per day during the upcoming week, according to News 1.

South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Friday during a video conference with 17 South Korean cities and provinces the government will be tracking a list of all arrivals from China, Newsis reported.

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People with suspected cases of the coronavirus are to be quarantined immediately until test results become available, Seoul said. Patients are to be released only after test results have been confirmed. The official death toll was 26 in China on Friday morning.

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South Korea confirmed its second case of the coronavirus on Friday, according to JTBC.

The second patient, a South Korean man in his 50s, had returned from Wuhan, but boarded plane in Shanghai. He first began experiencing symptoms, including a sore throat, on Jan. 10. The patient had never visited the seafood market in Wuhan linked to the first outbreak. South Korean health authorities are investigating 69 people who have come into contact with the man.

Concern is also rising in Korea some patients could evade coronavirus checks, following a social media posting from a Chinese woman in France that went viral this week.

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The Wuhan woman had said she took fever medication to hide her symptoms at a French airport. The posting began circulating before Chinese authorities shut down Wuhan.



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