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02 Feb 2020 | 03:21 PM UTC

South Korea: Country to ban entry of foreigners from Hubei province February 4 amid coronavirus outbreak

South Korea to ban entry of foreigners who have visited China's Hubei province, novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) origin, beginning February 4; further spread of coronavirus to be expected over coming weeks

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KOR

Event

On Sunday, February 2, South Korean officials announced that the country would ban the entry of foreigners who have recently visited China's Hubei province, the origin of the ongoing novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak, for an indeterminate period beginning Tuesday, February 4. As of Sunday, South Korea has reported 15 cases of the novel coronavirus infection.

Further international spread of the 2019-nCoV virus is to be expected over the coming days and weeks.

Context

The first case of 2019-nCoV was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in more than 20 countries and territories worldwide. Human-to-human transmission has been confirmed in Germany, Japan, the US, and Vietnam. Virus screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the ongoing novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak is a "public health emergency of international concern."

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Individuals traveling to South Korea are advised to confirm flight reservations, keep abreast of the situation, and contact their nearest embassy for further details. Individuals are advised to take precautionary measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus:

  • Avoid all contact with animals (dead or alive); avoid eating animal products that are undercooked; avoid all markets where animals are sold
  • Avoid all close contact with people displaying symptoms of the disease (e.g. difficulties breathing)
  • Frequently wash hands and wear a face mask
  • Adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments
  • Travelers returning from China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid spreading the disease.