The South Korean government has decided to completely ban foreigners who visited or stayed in the Chinese province of Hubei from entering the country to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. The government has also suspended “visa-free entry” of Chinese tourists into the South Korean resort island of Jeju after a Chinese tourist who visited the island has been found to be a patient. Meanwhile, a patient infected through a “third path,” who had not been subjected to conventional quarantine measures, has also emerged in South Korea. It is a Chinese man who came to this country after coming into contact with a confirmed patient in Japan.
Adding four new confirmed cases over the weekend, the total number of confirmed patients in South Korea has reached to 15 as of Sunday. The 12th patient has been found to be a 49-year-old Chinese man, who came into contact with a confirmed Japanese patient while working as a tour guide in Japan. He arrived in South Korea on January 19, and reported his health conditions to the nation’s health authority at the Japanese patient’s recommendation, before being confirmed as a patient on Saturday. He is the first confirmed case of patient that has come to South Korea from a country other than China.
The Japanese government notified his contact with the Japanese patient only to the Chinese government because of his Chinese nationality despite his current residence in South Korea. The South Korean health authority was completely unaware before the 12th patient voluntarily reported his case. This reveals that a trilateral collaboration system for infectious disease prevention among South Korea, China and Japanese has not properly worked. The Chinese patient’s wife in her 40s has also been confirmed to be the 14th patient, who was infected by her husband.
A first confirmed patient has also emerged among South Koreans who arrived via a chartered flight from Wuhan. The 13th patient, 28 year-old South Korean man, arrived in the country through the first chartered flight late last month. He was “asymptomatic” when arriving as he passed the departure quarantine process by the Chinese authority, in-flight inspection and the arrival quarantine process by the South Korean authority. The 15th patient, 43-year-old South Korean man, had been quarantined at home, after flying the same flight with the fourth patient, 55-year-old South Korean man, on January 20.
According to sources including the Chinese foreign ministry, 62 countries have put in place entry restrictions on Chinese nationals in connection with the Wuhan pneumonia as of Sunday. They are using four levels of restriction measures. Five countries including the U.S. are imposing entry ban on Chinese people, six countries including Russia are restricting visa issuance, and seven countries including South Korea and Japan are barring entry of Chinese nationals from the Hubei province and foreign travelers who visited the province, while 44 countries including the U.K. and France are obliging Chinese citizens to report medical conditions including body temperature checkup.
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