Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun announced on Friday, February 21, that Daegu and Cheongdo (North Gyeongsang province) have been designated as “special care zones” after a new cluster of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases was reported in the cities over the recent days. At least 70 new cases were recorded in Daegu this week and the first associated fatality from COVID-19 in the country was confirmed in Cheongdo on Thursday, February 20. Authorities believe that a single super-spreader is potentially responsible for infecting approximately 47 individuals at their church in Daegu. As of Friday morning, 104 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed nationwide.
According to media reports on Thursday, residents in Daegu are largely staying indoors as a precaution. While the city is not on lockdown as of Friday morning (local time), public facilities including hospitals, restaurants, and kindergartens may be closed. The "2020 Daegu Super Concert" event scheduled in Daegu on Sunday, March 8, has also been canceled. Further business disruptions are anticipated, as the virus is expected to spread in the coming days and weeks.
South Korean carrier Asiana Airlines announced on Wednesday, February 12, that it will reduce service to China until March 28. The government is also advising Korean nationals to refrain from traveling to China, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). 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 30 countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a "very grave threat."
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.
Individuals in North Gyeongsang province are advised to monitor the situation, anticipate further business disruptions, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
- If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider
- Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments
In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, individuals are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid potential spread of the disease.