Four nurses at Samsung Medical Center in southern Seoul have tested positive for COVID-19. It is the first time that a confirmed patient has been identified among medical staff at a large hospital in Korea.
According to the Gangnam-gu Office and Samsung Medical Center on May 19, a 29-year-old nurse, A, in the thoracic surgery room at Samsung Medical Center was confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 the previous day.
As a result, COVID-19 diagnostic tests have been carried out on about 200 people, including medical staff and patients who contacted A for two days on the 18th and 19th. Currently, three more nurses working in cardiothoracic and obstetrics and gynecology operating rooms have been confirmed as positive patients.
Gangnam-gu District Office said it conducted an emergency examination of 38 medical staff and 15 surgical patients who came into contact at the thoracic surgery ward on the third floor after A's confirmation last night and confirmed that three fellow nurses working at the obstetrics and thoracic surgery centers were positive this morning.
A had been at a self-isolation since May 16 due to a mild fever and a sore throat, and the hospital conducted its own sample test on the morning of May 18 due to a continued high fever and cough symptoms of 38 degrees, and as a result, she was tested positive in the afternoon and taken to a state-designated hospital.
A has reportedly never visited Itaewon, Yongsan-gu, where the COVID-19 mass infection recently took place, nor has she contacted an acquaintance who had been to Itaewon.
Nurse No. 2 (40) left work early yesterday afternoon due to muscle pain, and nurse No. 3 (24) who was confirmed to have had a sore throat for a long time. Nurse No. 4 confirmed, 30, was asymptomatic.
The four nurses were found to have participated in cardio and gynecological surgery in section C of the operating room on the third floor, and they made contacts with 19 patients.
Samsung Medical Center decided to shut down all 25 operating rooms on the third floor of the main building, including the C area where the nurses participated in the surgery, and take additional measures according to the results of the epidemiological investigation without receiving applications for new inpatients for three days from May 19.
In a related development, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said, "Tests are being carried out on 265 out of 277 people who had been in contact with the patients, including 262 medical personnel who had participated in the surgery or had contact with meals. The hospital partially shut down some of the operating rooms on the third floor of the main building and emergency disinfection has been completed along the moving line."
He said, "We judged that the situation is severe in that the location of the outbreak is a large hospital and the route of infection is unclear. Accordingly, we have formed an 18-member rapid response team to investigate movements, contactors and infection routes."