SEOUL－Asia reported hundreds of new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, including the first US soldiers to be infected in South Korea.
The US Forces Korea said in a statement that the 23 year-old soldier is stationed at Camp Carroll, north of Daegu, the city that is the epicenter of the outbreak in the South, adding that he had been put in self-quarantine at his off-base residence.
South Korea’s authorities and US military health professionals were tracing his contacts to determine if other people may have been exposed. Bowling alleys, movie theaters and a golf course at four US bases were closed after the soldier’s case was confirmed.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 134 of the 169 new cases were in Daegu, where the government has been mobilizing public health tools to contain the spread of the outbreak. Another 19 cases were in neighboring towns.
The country now has 1,261 confirmed infections of the virus and 12 fatalities. The national government has been channeling medical personnel, protective suits and other supplies to Daegu, and there are concerns the local hospitals are being overwhelmed and fatigued doctors are becoming vulnerable to infections.
“This week will be critical in the fight to combat the illness,” Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun said at a meeting in Daegu City Hall to discuss quarantine efforts.
The number of cases was expected to rise as health workers finish testing hundreds of members of the Daegu branch of a church that has the country’s biggest cluster of infections.
The Shincheonji Church of Jesus, which mainstream Christian organizations describe as a cult, provided a list of 212,000 members nationwide to government authorities who plan to widen the screening.
Vice-Health Minister Kim Ganglip said authorities plan to find and test churchgoers exhibiting symptoms first.
Thailand reported three new cases of a coronavirus on Wednesday, taking total infections to 40, health ministry officials said, criticizing patients for not disclosing their travel history.
Two of the new patients, all of whom were Thai nationals, had returned from vacation in Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido and came into contact with the third patient, an 8-year old boy, said Sukhum Kanchanapimai, permanent secretary at the ministry.
One male patient had not disclosed his travel history when he first sought medical attention and risked becoming a super-spreader, an incident of large transmission from a single source, Thai Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said.
According to the local authorities, passengers, cabin crew and students in the boy’s class were all being tested.
Thai health ministry officials will be prohibited from traveling to risky countries. If travel is required, personnel are required to self-quarantine for 14 days, Sukhum said.
Meanwhile, several Middle Eastern countries reported jumps in new cases tied to travel from Iran, which has the highest concentration in the Middle East, with 139 cases and 19 deaths.
Kuwait’s health ministry said on Twitter on Wednesday that the number of infections had risen to 25 after 13 more cases were confirmed. Bahrain had 26.
Agencies – Via Xinhua