The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) confirmed 5766 cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) and 35 associated fatalities across South Korea as of 00:00 (local time) on Thursday, March 5. The highest number of cases remains in Daegu with 4326 confirmed cases, followed by the Gyeongbuk region at 861. Further spread of COVID-19 is expected over the coming days and weeks across South Korea.
Local media outlets reported on Thursday that 96 countries and territories are restricting entry or enforcing quarantine measures for travelers from South Korea. More information regarding entry restrictions around the world for individuals coming South Korea can be found on the Korean Air website here. The national airline carrier also announced further international flight cancelations and reductions on Wednesday, March 4, including several routes to and from the US and Europe. Other domestic airlines, such as Asiana Airlines, also announced extensive flight cancelations and reductions on international routes from March 5. Further travel restrictions for individuals traveling from or via South Korea and/or for South Korean nationals are anticipated in the near term, as well as additional domestic and international flight disruptions.
A number of universities delayed their reopening until Monday, March 16. Further business and transportation disruptions are possible in the coming days and weeks.
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. A surge in cases linked to a religious sect in Daegu and a hospital in Cheongdo (North Gyeongsang province) led to their February 21 designation as "special care zones."
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous 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 risk of spread and the risk of impact of the virus is "'very high' at global level."
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 South Korea are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, anticipate further transportation and 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.
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, South Korea, Italy, and Iran 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.