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S. Korea advises self-quarantine for people with fever, respiratory symptoms

Feb. 24, 2020 - 16:02 By Ock Hyun-ju

The South Korean government on Monday advised those with fever and respiratory symptoms to stop going to work or schools, a day after the country raised its disease alert to the highest level in its fight against the rapidly spreading coronavirus. 

The government aims to stabilize the situation in Daegu, which has become a hotbed of COVID-19 here, within four weeks in an effort to block community spread of the virus from the southeastern city.

“There is a huge possibility of (the virus) spreading nationwide if community spread in Daegu is not effectively contained, given the number of infected patients in Daegu,” said Vice Health and Welfare Minister Kim Gang-lip at a regular briefing. 

Among Daegu citizens who show symptoms of a cold in the next two weeks, some 28,000 will be tested for the coronavirus in a bid to detect and isolate those infected with the virus at an early stage and prevent 
community spread, he said. 

Korea has reported additional deaths and alarming spikes in infections in the past few days. 

In the revised manual to be distributed to the public on preventing the spread of COVID-19, those showing symptoms of infection should rest at home without going outside and watch the development of symptoms for three to four days. 

The elderly, those pregnant and with chronic illness were advised to avoid going to crowded places. 

As of Monday afternoon, the number of infections here soared by 231 to 833, with most of the cases traced to a branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu and Cheongdo Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo, North 

Gyeongsang Province, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Out of 833 cases, 681 cases were confirmed in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province.

The KCDC said it was checking the health status of 9,336 members of the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji Church, with the members being placed in self-isolation. Most of them had been located and 13 people could not be reached, the police said. 

Busan also saw a surge in infections, with most of the cases tied to a church in the city. A nursing hospital in the city was placed under cohort isolation, with some 200 patients and medical staff inside, as one of the caretakers was infected with the virus.

The country saw eight deaths from the virus as of Monday afternoon, with a total of six linked to the hospital in Cheongdo. 

A total of 16 patients were in critical condition as of Monday afternoon, according to the KCDC. 

A 16-month-old baby and a four-year-old child infected with the virus were in stable condition, it, it said. 

The surge in infections has led to disruptions in operations of the parliament and judiciary. 

The National Assembly was shut down Monday for 24 hours from 6 p.m. to be disinfected, as it was revealed that Ha Yun-su, president of the Korean Federation of Teachers’ Associations, had attended a parliamentary forum last week. Ha was confirmed to be infected with COVID-19. The plenary session scheduled for Monday afternoon was canceled.

The National Court Administration on Monday recommended courts across the country delay or reschedule trials, except for urgent cases, in an unprecedented move. 

A total of 22 people have been released after making a full recovery, and 11,631 people were awaiting test results as of Monday afternoon.

By Ock Hyun-ju (