SEOUL, Feb. 3 (Korea Bizwire) – All seven people who showed symptoms of Zika infection tested negative for the virus as the country tightens quarantine measures and prepares to respond quickly to a possible outbreak, the government said Wednesday.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said everyone who underwent genetic screening came out negative for the virus.
“The tests were carried out as a precaution, and there was little chance that the people being checked were infected,” the KCDC said.
The Zika virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, which are not active during the winter months in South Korea, it said. Authorities, however, said people who have traveled to countries with Zika outbreaks could have been exposed.
Symptoms associated with the virus are fever, joint and muscle pain, a rash and headaches, with some having bloodshot eyes.
The virus is rarely fatal, but the World Health Organization (WHO) declared it an international health hazard earlier in the week after it has been linked to causing serious birth defects in Latin America. Pregnant women with the Zika virus could deliver babies with microcephaly, or abnormally small heads and brains.
South Korea also placed the Zika virus on its National Infectious Disease list on Jan. 29, making it mandatory for doctors to report suspected cases. Failure to do so can lead to a 2 million won (US$1,650) fine.
The government, meanwhile, held an emergency meeting of medical and quarantine experts on Tuesday and vowed to take all necessary measures so the country can be ready to counter the Zika virus.
There are currently no vaccines available to treat Zika infections, with doctors advising patients to get rest and drink lots of fluid.’