Seoul: South Korea on Wednesday confirmed its first case of monkeypox infection, prompting concerns over the possibility of the spread of the virus.
According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), the patient, who arrived at Incheon International Airport from Germany at 4 p.m. Tuesday, has tested positive for the virus, Yonhap news agency reported.
The person has been in isolation treatment at Incheon Medical Center, west of Seoul, since arriving in South Korea.
The KDCA raised the monkeypox risk level from “attention” to “caution” and decided to bolster measures against the spread of the virus.
A foreigner who has been hospitalized in Busan, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul, after showing possible symptoms of monkeypox, has tested negative. The person arrived in South Korea on Monday and was admitted to the Busan hospital on Tuesday.
The virus, traditionally confined to regions in Central and Western Africa, can cause symptoms that include fever, chills, rash and lesions.
The country has been vigilant against a potential inflow of monkeypox as an increasing number of countries have reported cases of the viral disease and international travel has increased following the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions.
Health authorities have designated monkeypox as a second-degree infectious disease out of a four-tier system. Currently, 22 contagious diseases including Covid-19, cholera and chickenpox are included in the same category.
Officials said last week the government is seeking to import the antiviral drug tecovirimat for 500 people next month.
Monkeypox patients will be treated in isolation in specialized hospitals and a 21-day mandatory self-isolation period is being considered for those who have a high risk of transmission after being in close contact with monkeypox patients, health authorities said.