Airports, hospitals fail to detect new coronavirus infection

Jan 28, 2020, 09:30 am

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The new coronavirus/ Source: Yonhap

By AsiaToday reporter Yoon Seo-young

South Korea’s quarantine network has been breached by a new coronavirus also known as Wuhan pneumonia. The nation reported the fourth confirmed case of the virus in a 55-year-old South Korean man on Monday. The man passed inspection at an airport upon his return to Korea from the Chinese city of Wuhan as he showed no symptoms of infection when he was screened. He also visited a local clinic twice, but the hospital failed to recognize the infectious disease. The country’s airport also failed to screen the third confirmed patient, who showed no symptoms and carried out normal activities in public, raising the possibility of secondary infection. With mounting public fears over the patient’s movements in Gangnam and Ilsan areas, there is a public uproar against the government’s weak response. 

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said Monday it confirmed the fourth case of the Wuhan coronavirus. The fourth confirmed patient visited a local clinic a day after returning home on Jan. 20. But the medical institution did not know if the patient was infected. “We have confirmed that the list of people who had returned home after visiting Wuhan has been notified to the hospital,” said KCDC Director Jung Eun-kyeong. “The investigation group is currently checking whether the hospital had checked the list.” Offered by the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service (HIRA), the list refers to a program dedicated to providing real-time information on entrants of new coronavirus infection areas to medical institutions through the Drug Safety Utilization Review (DUR).

The fourth confirmed patient revisited a medical facility on Jan. 25 for high fever and aching muscles, and his case was reported to public health center. He was diagnosed with pneumonia Saturday by a screening clinic. He was placed in isolation at Seoul National University Hospital in Bundang and was confirmed infected on Monday. The man was not immediately quarantined although the public health center reported the case. This is because the KCDC classified those who have both fever and respiratory problems as a “suspected case” while considering those who show one of the symptoms as those “subject to the health authorities’ active monitoring.” 

The poor quarantine networks in airports and hospitals are also reflected in the third confirmed patient’s route. After returning to South Korea, the man carried out various activities – such as receiving treat in a clinic in Gangnam region, dining at restaurants, staying in a hotel in Seoul, before visiting his mother in Ilsan, Gyeonggi Province – and ran into 74 people. Among them, 14 people had a close contact with the patient. “We are carrying out various quarantine measures not only inspecting at the moment of arrival, but also by sending text messages after entrants’ entry and departure,” Jung said. “However, it is hard to detect patients who do not show any symptoms during incubation period.”

The KCDC is planning to step up efforts to contain the spread of the virus. “We will reannounce a list of do’s and don’ts as well as guidenlines for medical institutions that will begin operating on Tuesday,” Jung said. “Since our main goal is to prevent secondary infections, we will respond in cooperation with medical institutions.”

The KCDC plans to introduce a new diagnostic test, which can test Wuhan coronavirus faster than the existing one, in early February. 

The KCDC stressed that those who visited China and have fever or respiratory problems within 14 days should go to selected medical institutions and avoid going directly to local medical institutions. The selected medical institutions are listed on the local government websites. 
The government raised its infectious disease alert level one notch to “orange,” the third highest readiness level in the four-tiered system. 

#Wuhan #pneumonia #coronavirus #infection #fourth case 
Copyright by Asiatoday