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Preemptive, active gov't measures against novel coronavirus announced

Minister of Health and Welfare Park Neunghoo on Feb. 9 speaks to a meeting at Government Complex-Seoul on the national response to the novel coronavirus outbreak (Yonhap News)

By Kim Young Deok and Lee Jihae

The government on Feb. 9 held a meeting on responding to the novel coronavirus outbreak and pledged to strengthen measures to preemptively and aggressively prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The Central Disaster Management Headquarters under the Ministry of Interior and Safety will first implement additional measures to prevent the coronavirus from further spreading in the country. Data will be compiled on those who entered Korea from China, who will undergo daily self-diagnosis.

The travel histories of patients to Southeast Asia and China will also be provided to medical institutions and pharmacies.

Early detection efforts will also be taken. The government said it secured enough tools to diagnose 3,000 people per day, up from 200, and will work with civic inspection bodies until late this month to inspect about 10,000 cases daily.

The government will also follow doctors' decisions and diagnose those believed by doctors to possibly have the virus due to symptoms, even if the patients did not travel to China.

If the number of patients swells, the government will cooperate with civic medical bodies to secure the necessary number of beds and medical personnel to handle patients.

An additional flight to Wuhan, China -- the epicenter of the outbreak – will be arranged to evacuate the remaining Korean residents there.

Minister of Health and Welfare Park Neunghoo said, " The government will closely examine everything to protect against the introduction of the new coronavirus into Korea and the spread of the virus throughout regional communities."

"Please don't panic and just faithfully follow the preventative and behavioral steps announced by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

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