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What we can all learn from South Korea’s 'super spreader' of coronavirus, Patient 31.

On February 6, a 61-year-old woman in South Korea was in a minor traffic accident in Daegu, the country’s fourth largest city.

The following day, she began experiencing headaches in what seemed to be caused by the car collision. So, she checked herself into the Saeronan Chinese Medicine Hospital.

The woman drove home to collect her belongings, before returning to the hospital where she would stay for a number of days. On February 9, the unidentified woman attended a service at the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu, with hundreds of other worshippers.

On her third day of being at the hospital, doctors discovered the woman had a fever, accompanied by other flu-like symptoms.

She took a flu test. It came back negative.

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Nurses work in the aisle in a hospital designated for COVID-19 patients in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province. Image: Getty.

But those symptoms persisted in the days following, specifically her high-fever, which was worsening.

On February 15, doctors suggested she be tested for the Novel coronavirus COVID-19. At the time, the country had a mere 30 confirmed cases of the virus which had been sweeping neighbouring country, China, where the coronavirus originated. In South Korea, at least, it appeared to be contained.

The woman didn't take the test for coronavirus. She had not travelled overseas since the outbreak began - she reasoned - and had not been in contact with any confirmed cases of the coronavirus (that she knew of).

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So, instead of taking the test, she jumped in a taxi to meet with a friend to have a buffet lunch at a hotel in eastern Daegu.

The next day, on February 16, she once again attended services at the Shincheonji Church of Jesus.

On February 17, doctors once again asked her to get tested for the coronavirus. Local reports say she argued with a health official for an hour, insisting she couldn't have coronavirus. She eventually conceded, and went to another hospital to be tested.

It came back positive and the unidentified woman was the 31st confirmed case of coronavirus in South Korea.

She is now known as 'Patient 31'. Still, the source of her coronavirus was never confirmed.

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According to Reuters, "The Korea Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (KCDC) said on Saturday they had obtained a list of 9,300 people who had attended those two Shincheonji church services, around 1,200 of whom had complained of flu-like symptoms. Hundreds of cases have now been confirmed there."

The cases in South Korea subsequently grew exponentially and hundreds of cases could be linked to Patient 31. Authorities called her  the "super spreader".

In South Korea, Daegu became the epicentre of coronavirus.

In early March, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 63.5 per cent of all confirmed cases in the country were “related to Shincheonji [Church of Jesus].”

Now in South Korea, as of reporting, there have been 8,162 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 75 deaths.

As the world grapples with the reality of the coronavirus pandemic, and the number of confirmed cases continues to surge globally, the attitude demonstrated by Patient 31 can only be described as selfish.

Not only is the case of Patient 31 a salient reminder to listen to health experts should they ask you to take a test for coronavirus, but it also teaches us that self-isolation is the best way to prevent the spread of the virus.

And, most importantly, we must ask ourselves: If you are showing symptoms of coronavirus, and got diagnosed in one week, how many people would you have put at risk?

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