(ATTN: UPDATES latest info in paras 4-5)
INCHEON, Dec. 2 (Yonhap) -- A couple, who tested positive for the omicron coronavirus variant for the first time in South Korea, was found to have lied about how they went home from the airport upon return from Nigeria, leaving dozens of people exposed to the risk of infection.
The couple -- a pastor and his wife in their 40s -- initially told health authorities they took one of the officially designated infection-proof "quarantine" taxies to return home from Incheon International Airport on Nov. 24.
But it was found later that a friend of the couple, a Uzbek national, drove them home in a private vehicle. That left the friend out of health authorities' radar even after the couple tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 25.
The friend moved around without any restrictions for six days, coming into contact with 87 people, including family, friends and co-workers, and putting them at risk of COVID-19 infection. He later tested positive for the new variant.
Officials said two of them -- his wife and his mother-in-law -- have been categorized as suspected omicron cases and an investigation is under way.
Health authorities said they are mulling over the option of filing charges of infectious disease prevention law violations against the couple, saying "their false statement left the Uzbek man uncategorized as those who came in close contact with COVID-19 patients."