(ATTN: COMBINES with coronavirus releases story; CHANGES headline, lead; UPDATES with minor edits in lead, paras 4, 8-11)
SEOUL, Feb. 15 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported no additional novel coronavirus case for the fourth day in a row with the total number of cases unchanged at 28, as two more people have been released from quarantine, public health authorities said Saturday.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said a total of nine patients have been released from isolation after fully recovering from the COVID-19 virus.
The country has tested a total of 7,519 people for the virus since Jan. 3, with 6,853 turning up negative as of early Saturday, with another 638 undergoing tests for possible infection, the KCDC said.
It said that 1,785 people who have come into contact with infected people are being monitored carefully, with 442 placed in quarantine.
The KCDC said patients number seven and 22 have been released from quarantine after testing negative twice in detailed screening.
The seventh patient is a 28-year-old man who visited Wuhan, central China, the epicenter of the current outbreak, and was confirmed to have been infected on Jan. 30. The 22nd patient is a 46-year-old man who tested positive on Feb. 6.
"The seventh patient is expected to leave the hospital today, although the 22nd patient may remain for a while longer," the health agency said.
The KCDC then said that the remaining 19 patients currently being treated for the virus at hospitals are all in stable condition, with only one person on a respirator for pneumonia. Doctors have said a few others could be discharged from hospitals soon, after undergoing final screenings to make certain they are healthy and pose no health risks to others.
The number of people being tested has increased by 103 from the day before as the country has aggressively isolated and checked people at risk of having contracted the virus.
In regard to ongoing efforts by South Korea to beef up its efforts to stem the spread of the virus, the KCDC said it in considering a move to incorporate the COVID-19 screening with its overall influenza checks so as to prevent infections from slipping past its quarantine regime.
The move comes as Seoul, starting on Wednesday, enforced stricter quarantine screening for entrants from Hong Kong and Macao, in addition to mainland China.
Passengers from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao are now required to use separate arrival counters at international airports across the country and must write a special quarantine report, filling out health questionnaires to check whether they have a fever or respiratory problems. They must also download a mobile application to report their health status every day.