Those in 20s may be COVID-19 ‘carriers,’ KDCA commissioner says

25-Nov-2020 Intellasia | KoreaTimes | 6:51 AM Print This Post

Concerns are rising that the health authorities may have difficulty in curbing the increasing spread of COVID-19 here due to a growing number of people who are asymptomatic carriers of the disease.

According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), Tuesday, there were 349 new coronavirus infections reported for Monday, including 320 local cases, raising the total caseload to 31,353. The number of daily new cases returned to over 300 just one day after dropping to 271.

The authorities expressed worries over continuous sporadic infection clusters among young people, such as those at cram schools in Seoul and in military units.

Nearly 90 people linked to a private education institute in Noryangjin in southwestern Seoul have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Dongjak District Office. Noryangjin is home to a slew of cram schools for people, mostly in their 20s, preparing to take state tests to become civil servants or teachers.

Infections are taking place at military barracks as well. About 40 people have been confirmed infected at an Army unit in Cheorwon, Gangwon Province.

“The number of infections among young people in their 40s or younger who can be asymptomatic yet still transmit the disease, keeps increasing. Most of them actively participate in social activities but they spread the virus unwittingly without any specific symptoms,” Second vice Health minister Kang Do-tae said during a government coronavirus response meeting, Tuesday.

Jeong Eun-kyung, commissioner of the KDCA, said in a briefing Monday that she believes certain people could have become “disease carriers” ? people who unknowingly become asymptomatic transmission vectors ? responsible for the vast majority of such sporadic community infections. She continued, “The virus is highly contagious especially during the four or five days before and after diagnosis, but young people in their 20s and 30s usually maintain their social activities even during this period because they rarely experience symptoms.”

The proportion of those in their 20s among the total number of confirmed cases in Korea is growing.

People in their 20s accounted for 17.8 percent of the total number of confirmed patients last week, up sharply from 10.6 percent six weeks ago.

Apparently taking the fact into account, the health authorities stressed the need for those in their 20s to strictly comply with the quarantine measures.

Experts also called for preventive measures.

“Efforts are required to strengthen quarantine measures centered on cafes and other places where people in their 20s frequently gather, and to proactively find those who are asymptomatic,” said Chun Byung-chul, a professor of preventive medicine department at Korea University.

“In particular, the young are heavily involved in social groups for religion, hobbies, schools and family. If there is a confirmed case of a young person, we need to investigate all the surrounding groups that they belong to. So we need to expand the scope of virus testing,” Chun said.


Category: Korea

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