Suspicious pneumonia is not Chinese strainThe 36-year-old woman from China who was put in quarantine last week in case she was Korea’s first case of a pneumonia-like illness that has broken out in China has been cleared of suspicion.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said Saturday that the Chinese national, who works in Korea and returned from a business trip to Wuhan, Hubei Province in central China last month, tested negative in a so-called pan-coronavirus examination, which tested for all types of coronaviruses.
That means her pneumonia was not caused by any type of coronavirus, including the new type Chinese officials said was the cause of the viral pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, the KCDC said in a statement.
The outbreak in Wuhan has infected dozens of people and possibly spread to Hong Kong. The illness claimed its first fatality in Wuhan last Thursday.
The KCDC said Saturday it has decided to discharge the Chinese national from Seoul National University Bundang Hospital in Seongnam, Gyeonggi, just south of Seoul.
The hospital is a government-designated hospital for isolated treatment. The Chinese woman first went to Hallym University Dongtan Sacred Heart Hospital in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi, on Jan. 7, where she was diagnosed with pneumonia, after which she was transferred to Seoul National University Bundang Hospital and quarantined on the same day.
On the new virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Sunday in a statement that at this stage, there is no infection among health care workers and no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission. “The evidence is highly suggestive that the outbreak is associated with exposures in one seafood market in Wuhan,” read the WHO statement. “The market closed on 1 January 2020.”
Among the 41 confirmed cases in Wuhan, there has been one death, the WHO said, noting that the 61-year-old male patient had been experiencing “serious underlying medical conditions.”
Chinese health authorities still don’t know for sure what caused the outbreak. Last Thursday, China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency reported that “preliminary” lab results showed “a new-type coronavirus” was the cause of the viral pneumonia in Wuhan, citing a Chinese expert who led a team to evaluate pathogen test results.
The new virus, said an English version of the report, “is different from known human coronavirus species, including the viruses that had caused SARS [Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome] and MERS [Middle East Respiratory Syndrome].”
The Chinese patient in Korea visited Wuhan from Dec. 13 to 17 on a business trip with a colleague, according to the KCDC. She said she did not visit the troubled seafood market. The colleague is fine.
BY LEE SUNG-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]