3 more novel coronavirus patients discharged from hospitals

Posted on : 2020-02-13 17:24 KST Modified on : 2020-02-13 17:24 KST
Most patients found to exhibit only mild symptoms
Myongji Hospital in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, where South Korea’s 28th confirmed novel coronavirus patient is being quarantined. (Yonhap News)
Myongji Hospital in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, where South Korea’s 28th confirmed novel coronavirus patient is being quarantined. (Yonhap News)

Three more individuals who had contracted the novel coronavirus disease were discharged from South Korean hospitals on Feb. 12. Most of the South Koreans diagnosed with the disease, officially called “COVID-19,” tested positive early on and have exhibited mild symptoms. The latest discharges bring the total to seven. The medical personnel who treated the discharged patients said that Kaletra, a drug used to treat HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) had been effective at mitigating their symptoms and suggested that the drug be aggressively used with patients showing symptoms of pneumonia.

The third patient (a 54-year-old South Korean man) and the 17th patient (a 37-year-old South Korean man), who were at Myongji Hospital in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, and the eighth patient (a 62-year-old South Korean woman), who was at Wonkwang University Hospital in Iksan, North Jeolla Province, were released from quarantine and allowed to leave the hospital on Wednesday. The 28th patient (a 31-year-old Chinese woman), who is also currently being treated at Myongji Hospital, hardly has any symptoms.

“We’ve been administering Kaletra to the third patient since his eighth day in the hospital. The day after we started administering the medicine, smaller quantities of the novel coronavirus showed up in tests and the pneumonia symptoms improved,” explained Lee Wang-jun, chair of the board at Myongji Hospital, during a press conference on Wednesday. Kaletra is a drug that suppresses the activity of an enzyme that breaks down proteins, an enzyme that’s necessary for the proliferation of HIV.

“We should seriously consider administering AIDS medications in the early stage to the high-risk group of COVID-19, which is to say people with symptoms of pneumonia who are advanced in age or who have underlying conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Before we can prove its clinical efficacy, however, more research is needed,” said Lim Jae-gyun, a professor of laboratory medicine at Myongji Hospital. The hospital is planning to submit a research paper detailing the process of treating the third patient to the Journal of Korean Medical Science.

Lee Wang-jun said that the 28th patient “appears to have had very mild symptoms, rather than being an unusual case,” adding that doctors at the hospital “agreed that she’s definitely entered the recovery phase.” The fact that the 28th patient is a friend of the third patient and that the last time they’d made contact was Jan. 25, questions had been raised about the maximum 14-day incubation period of the disease.

Potential of infection without symptoms

Public health authorities said that there might be more cases of individuals being infected without showing symptoms, like the 28th patient, and are planning to consider instituting a tougher protocol for lifting self-quarantine. Considering that secondary transmissions have occurred between family and friends, some argue that more careful management is needed for cases in which close contact is believed to have occurred. The self-quarantine period for the 28th patient ended before she contracted the disease, but the public health authorities had been reluctant to lift her quarantine given her history of close contact with the third patient.

“Most of the 11 people who have tested positive after coming into contact with infected individuals are either their family members or friends who spent a lot of time with them,” said Jung Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), during the regular press briefing on Wednesday. “Given the high likelihood of these people contracting the disease and the mildness of its symptoms, we’re looking into testing them for the disease before lifting quarantine.”

Jung also addressed predictions that the disease will reach its peak in China at the end of February and dissipate in April. “If the number of Chinese patients continues to decline, the risk of the disease spreading in South Korea will probably fall along with it. But it’s still too early to conclude we’ve passed the peak or reached an inflection point,” she said.

On Feb. 17, the KCDC plans to have related agencies and research institutions begin incubating the coronavirus behind COVID-19 and moving forward with efforts to develop medication or a vaccine.

In related news, five of the 147 South Korean citizens and family members who were evacuated from Wuhan on a third charter flight on Wednesday morning exhibited suspicious symptoms and were transferred to the National Medical Center along with two children (one 11 years old and the other 15 months old).

The evacuees without any symptoms were driven on a bus arranged by the government to the Korea Defense Language Institute, located in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province. Whereas only South Korean citizens were allowed on the first and second charter flights, the third flight included 67 Chinese family members (one of whom is from Hong Kong). This flight reduced the number of South Koreans still on the ground in Wuhan to about 150.

By Noh Ji-won, staff reporter, and Park Kyung-man, North Gyeonggi correspondent

Please direct comments or questions to [english@hani.co.kr]

button that move to original korean article (클릭시 원문으로 이동하는 버튼)

Related stories

Most viewed articles