SEOUL: South Korea on Monday (Oct 19) began testing tens of thousands of employees of hospitals and nursing homes to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks at live-in facilities.
Fifteen of the 76 latest cases reported by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency were from the southern port city of Busan, where more than 70 infections have been linked to a hospital for the elderly.
The disease caused by the coronavirus can be more serious in older people and those with existing health conditions like high-blood pressure.
Health workers have been scrambling to track infections in the Seoul metropolitan area, home to about half of the country’s 51 million people, as the virus spreads in a variety of places, including hospitals, churches, schools and workplaces.
From Monday, they will start a process to test 130,000 workers at hospitals, nursing homes and senior centres in the greater capital area. Officials will also test 30,000 patients who have visited and used these facilities, but will leave out hospitalised patients, who already receive tests when they are admitted.
Officials plan to complete the tests within October and could possibly expand the screening to other regions if needed.
South Korea has confirmed 25,275 cases of coronavirus infection, including 444 deaths from COVID-19.