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South Korea reports first COVID-19 mutation among travelers from Britain

South Korea reports first COVID-19 mutation among travelers from Britain
South Korea said Monday passengers on the same flight from Britain on Dec. 22 were confirmed for the mutated coronavirus. File Photo by Thomas Maresca/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 28 (UPI) -- South Korea is reporting its first cases of the new mutated form of the novel coronavirus, after passengers on a flight from Britain tested positive for the more contagious mutation.

Jeong Eun-kyeong, commissioner of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, said Monday at a regular COVID-19 briefing that three people on a recent flight from Britain to Incheon International Airport were confirmed for the virus, Newsis and KBS reported.

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South Korea said the flight, which landed Dec. 22, included the three passengers, all members of a family. The flight included 62 passengers and 12 crew members. Authorities are trying to determine whether the virus spread through the air in the cabin, according to reports.

The South Koreans who tested positive for the mutation was a parent and two minors under age 19, Newsis reported.

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All crew members tested negative for the virus. Passengers must stay in quarantine for two weeks at designated hotels or at home.

By law, they are required to take a COVID-19 test immediately after landing and at the end of the two-week quarantine. The anti-epidemic measures should prevent the mutated virus from spreading, Seoul said.

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Jeong said Monday that the family carrying the mutated virus is being monitored after being moved to a quarantine facility to "minimize exposure" to the public. South Korea reported 808 new cases on Monday, bringing the total to 57,680 since the start of the pandemic.

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South Korea has suspended all flights from Britain until Jan. 7.

Anxiety is growing in South Korea about the genetic mutation, which is estimated to be 1.7 times more contagious than the original virus.

South Korean officials said Monday that rumors the passengers traveling from Britain violated quarantine guidelines and went out in public are false, after comments on social media suggested potential patients were engaging in risky behavior.

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