The government confirmed three more patients infected with the COVID-19 variant from the United Kingdom. All three were family members of a patient who recently returned from the U.K. This was the first time that the variant was confirmed among people who resided in Korea, with no history of overseas travel.
On January 7, the Central Disease Control Center announced, “We confirmed additional U.K. COVID-19 variants from specimen collected from three family members of A, who was confirmed positive for the U.K. variant on January 2.” Health authorities are currently analyzing the specimen of one other family member who came in contact with A. Thus, authorities have confirmed a total of fifteen cases of COVID-19 variants: 14 cases of the U.K. variant and one from the Republic of South Africa.
A was first confirmed positive for COVID-19 on December 20, while under home quarantine after returning from the U.K. on December 19. After a genome-wide association test, A was confirmed to have the U.K. variant of the novel coronavirus on January 2. Authorities traced contacts and believe there was no one other than family who came in contact with A.
A’s family appear to have contracted the virus from A, since they had no history of overseas travel recently. The family members were classified as close contacts after A was confirmed positive on December 20, and were under home quarantine. Then they respectively tested positive on December 26, 29 and 30 and the variant was also confirmed on the same day. The disease control center said, “The family could have contracted the virus in the car after A entered the country.” As for the possibility of any outside contacts other than the three family members, the center said, “The inquiry is ongoing.”
Health authorities are concentrating on blocking the variants of the novel coronavirus from the U.K. and South Africa from entering the country, for they are known to be more infectious than the existing COVID-19. The ban on flights departing from the U.K. will be extended for two more weeks until January 21. And from January 8, all foreigners entering the country must submit a fit-to-fly certificate confirming negative PCR test results. Foreigners will not be allowed to enter the country without the certificate. The measure was enforced after the variants were discovered in a number of countries in addition to the U.K. and South Africa. For foreigners entering through ports, the certificate is mandatory only for foreigners who boarded the ship after December 15.
As of midnight this day, authorities confirmed 870 new cases of COVID-19. The number has remained below 1,000 for three consecutive days. Among them, 833 were confirmed in the local community, while 37 were from overseas. Nineteen more patients died, pushing the total number of deaths to 1,046.
This day, B, an inmate in his seventies at Dongbu Detention Center died after testing positive for COVID-19. B was confirmed positive for the virus on December 25. The execution of his sentence was suspended, and he was put in quarantine at a living treatment center in the detention center. This morning, he was transferred to the National Police Hospital after having trouble breathing, but died while receiving emergency care. Thus the total number of deaths from COVID-19 at correctional facilities nationwide has increased to three. By midnight this day, the total number of COVID-19 cases confirmed at Dongbu Detention Center increased to 1,173 after 79 more inmates were confirmed positive.
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