It was on Wednesday that the first case of the new coronavirus was found at Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo, North Gyeongsang Province.
Until then, it had not been confirmed whether the 31st patient, an alleged super spreader and a member of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony, visited Cheongdo as well as her connection with the church.
In other words, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) had no reason to conduct an epidemic investigation into Daenam Hospital. That raises a question of how the first COVID-19 patient could have been found at the hospital. It was an internal doctor at the hospital who found the lurking patient.
According to the Central Preventive Service Task Force of the KCDC, the number of patients developing fever at Daenam Hospital began to increase from mid-February. The internist thought patients' fever and other symptoms quite strange and requested COVID-19 screening.
Two among the screened showed a positive response to the test. The KCDC on Thursday dispatched an immediate reaction team to conduct complete enumeration with local government.
However, COVID-19 patients began to appear en masse. The confirmed patients in Daenam Hospital rose to 16 by 9 p.m. Friday, and one of them even died. Also, four nurses were among the confirmed cases, making the first group infection of medical service providers.
One hospital employee, the nurses, and 11 hospitalized patients in, including the dead, were confirmed. The other medical providers who worked in the same ward responded negatively to the test.
The task force is operating complete enumeration on medical providers, workers, and hospitalized patients at the hospital. It is taking similar steps on the convalescent and nursing hospitals using the same building.
Ninety-two patients hospitalized in the psychiatric ward will be transported to other hospitals or quarantine depending on their test results. The workers exposed to the viral environment are in self-quarantine, and outpatient care and further hospitalization have been stopped.
"Daenam Hospital's internist requested the screening of the patient with fever, and two patients were confirmed there," KCDC Director Jung Eun-kyeong said. She stressed that physicians should stay alert and actively examine the patients.
The KCDC confirmed that the 31st patient had visited Cheongdo but not the Daenam Hospital or the funeral hall, by checking her credit card use records and her remarks. It is checking what kind of connection between Shincheonji Church and Daenam Hospital have.
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