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Patient 31 – the Reason for the Coronavirus’ Outbreak in South Korea

Over the past few days, South Korea has been suffering from a major crisis with the sudden outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). It’s suspected that the outbreak happened due to one patient nicknamed “Patient 31.” Here is a recap of the story of Patient 31 and how one individual can lead to such an alarming crisis.

taken by Yonhap/TTXVN

At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, South Korea reported only a few cases of infection, unlike their neighbor – Japan, with 300 cases after the Diamond Princess luxury cruise ship incident. For South Korea, it all started in Daegu, a large city in South Korea, with the 61-year-old woman nicknamed Patient 31.

It was reported that Patient 31 got into a car accident on February 2nd. After the car accident, she frequently visited Saeronan hospital in Daegu for check-ups from February 2nd to February 18th. Since her injuries were minor, the hospital was unable to keep her despite the fact that she had signs of COVID-19 on February 8th. Even though the doctors advised her to stay in the hospital, Patient 31 believed that she didn’t have COVID-19 since she didn’t travel outside of South Korea for a long time.

An empty train station in Daegu. Taken by Yonhap News

Notably, on February 9th, Patient 31 became more active as a member of a religious cult named Shincheonji. It was the start of her journey, spreading COVID-19 to more than 500 people in the cult. The following days after her cult meeting, she went to public events such as buffets and many more Shincheonji’s meetings. Consequently, after the authorities confirmed that Patient 31 had COVID-19, the outbreak of infection cases in Daegu started to rise with numbers from 150 cases to 300 cases overnight. Currently, South Korea has reported 1300 COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths. The sudden spike in cases has left South Korea’s government unable to deal with the major crisis. Last week, South Korea’s government officially announced its failure to handle the current situation.

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