Covid-positive reporter who attended Lee Kun-hee's funeral prompts testing of business, political leaders
The Central Disease Control Headquarters on Wednesday morning requested people who visited the first floor lobby of the funeral hall at the Samsung Medical Center in Gangnam District on Oct. 26 to get tested for Covid-19. There had been no additional confirmed cases related to the funeral as of Wednesday.
The reporter, who attended the funeral at the hospital on Oct. 26, began developing coronavirus symptoms the following day and was confirmed positive Monday, according to health authorities. Officials say that the reporter could have been contagious from Oct. 25, two days before symptoms started developing.
However, two people who dined with the reporter on Oct. 27 have tested negative.
Despite the hospital's funeral hall limiting attendance to less than 50 people and requiring QR code check-ins, health authorities estimate that over 1,000 people visited the center, including prominent politicians, senior government officials, business leaders and other celebrities. The lobby and entrance of the hall was crowded with reporters and cameramen covering the funeral after Lee died on Oct. 25.
Consequently, a number of politicians and government leaders rushed to get tested Wednesday, many canceling activities while awaiting results.
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki, who visited Lee’s mourning altar, was tested Wednesday and is self-quarantining at his residence. Hong was thus unable to attend a National Assembly budget meeting scheduled for that day. Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo, Fair Trade Commission Chairman Joh Sung-wook and Financial Services Commission Chairman Eun Sung-soo also got tested.
Ahn Cheol-soo, leader of the minor opposition People's Party, is also self-quarantining while awaiting test results. Jeju Gov. Won Hee-ryong likewise visited the mourning altar on Oct. 26 and received negative results Wednesday.
Korea reported 118 additional coronavirus cases as of Tuesday midnight, bringing total Covid-19 patients to 26,925, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said Wednesday. Two more people died from the virus, bringing total fatalities to 474.
This marked a spike from the 75 new cases the previous day and a return to triple digits after four days with less than 100 new cases.
Nursing homes, hospitals, small gatherings and transmissions between family members continue to be sources of infection.
The country still is monitoring for possible clusters emerging from Halloween celebrations last weekend, when crowds of young people visited bars and parties despite being warned against doing so by the government.
The South Gyeongsang Provincial Government said Wednesday that a teenage high school boy from Changwon was confirmed Covid-19 positive the previous day, infecting his entire family of five, including parents and two sisters in their 20s and teens. The boy went to school Tuesday but was sent home early after he was found to have a fever. He got tested soon after at a local clinic and was confirmed positive, and the rest of his family was found to be infected the following morning.
The boy's family members were found to have made contact with hundreds of people. The daughter is a university student in Changwon and one parent continued going to the office. Local health authorities are in the process of contacting about 600 colleagues. The university shut down for a week and reverted to online classes.
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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