중앙데일리

Number of A(H1N1) cases here reaches 27

May 27,2009
Four more foreigners from the group of English teachers recruited by a Seoul-based private English institute franchise yesterday were confirmed by Korea’s health authorities to have contracted A(H1N1) influenza. Including one separate confirmed case early yesterday, the total number of domestic infections rose to 27.

From that group of some 70 English teachers brought into Korea by Chungdahm Learning, 19 cases have been confirmed so far and more are suspected. The Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said yesterday that it found five more foreigners, including one Australian, three Americans and one Korean, have caught the new strain of flu.

Those four foreigners from English-speaking countries including the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia were teacher candidates at Chungdahm Learning, an operator of two English language institute franchises headquartered in Daechi-dong, southern Seoul. They entered Korea on May 16, were trained through May 22 and were dispatched across branches nationwide that total 121. The disease spread rapidly because the victims stayed at the same residence in southern Seoul for almost a week, according to the disease control center.

Among the 19 patients from the teacher group, six were confirmed with the virus on Saturday, followed by eight on Sunday, one on Monday and four more yesterday. Three children from New York were found on Sunday to have contracted the disease. One separate confirmed patient yesterday was a Korean female from New York who arrived here on Sunday.

Chungdahm Learning said on Monday it ordered entire branches temporarily shut until June 2. However, a spokesman at the Health Ministry said even if some of those branches continue operation, there are no legal grounds currently available to force them to close.

“Unless a specific regional administrative unit sees an outbreak of the flu, it’s impossible to bring the branches under the law,” said the spokesman. “If we do so, we could face criticism from the public that we are taking excessively harsh measures.”

He added that the fever detector at the Incheon International Airport failed to catch any of those patients, which means either that they were in the latent period or in the very early stage of the disease. The latent period for the flu generally lasts between five and seven days.


By Seo Ji-eun [spring@joongang.co.kr]



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