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COVID19 Cluster Outbreak in Cheonan
Mar 11, 2020

What’s behind the COVID19 cluster of infection in Cheonan?

What’s the reason behind the COVID19 cluster outbreak in Cheonan City? Find out and be informed on the status of the cases in the city.

We will try to give you a look at why the number of COVID19 infected patients shot up in Cheonan, a city less than two hours from Seoul with a population of 682, 564. The city of Cheonan is more than a two-hour drive from Daegu where the first big outbreak happened back in the middle of  February. So why had the numbers gone up in Cheonan? Is there also a church connection, like the one in Daegu? 

Just like a mystery, everyone wondered about it when the first confirmed cases were reported in the city on the 25th of February. This led to a closer investigation on the same religious group with members based in Cheonan. The authorities took actions in closing the building and monitoring the group as precautionary measure. 

It wasn’t until a few days later when another angle came to light just as the number of infected patients continued to rise with a seemingly one unifying factor, a Zumba dance workshop. 

It turns out that a great number of the cases were connected to a Zumba Dance Instructor’s Workshop that took place on the 15th of February. Most patients were either present in that event or they were family, friends or acquaintances of those who attended it. 

The event had about 29 dance instructors coming from other towns. It was the biggest source of the number of cases not only in Cheonan but in the whole Chungcheongnamdo which hit 102 as of March 10. 

Eight of the dance instructors (4 from Chungnam, 1 from Seoul, 1 from Sejong, and 1 from Gyeonggi) were confirmed to be infected. Seventeen were negative and a second round of tests are underway for the rest. Six more people caught the virus from the confirmed zumba dance instructor from Sejong.  

In Cheonan, the first confirmed case is that of a 25-year-old member of the Korean Air Force. He is from Cheonan but based in Daegu and on duty at Gyeryongdae Air Force Weather Corps. Except for that, most of the cases are related to the Zumba event.

The second confirmed patient in Cheonan was traced to a Zumba instructor, identified as patient number 5 in Cheonan (Cheonan No. 5.) Cheonan’s number of confirmed patients currently stand at 96 including four Zumba dance instructors, 54 students, and 34 family members and acquaintances.

As of March 10, the youngest patient reported on the Cheonan City government website is a two-year-old related to patient number 29. Most of the patients are between the ages of 30s to early 50s. Fifty-five of them are being treated at Cheonan Medical Center. Other patients are in local university hospitals (9 in Dankook, 5 in Soonchunhyang) and other medical centers in nearby towns of Hongseong, Seosan and Gongju. 

Below is the daily status of the number of confirmed patients. This is from February 24 at zero to March 10.The number has gradually increased within the last ten days. At the same time, it has also shown a relatively low number of new patients after it peaked on the 28th. 

This coincided with the time when the link to the Zumba event came about. Since then, authorities took various actions to hopefully curb the increasing number of cases. These include close monitoring of possible cases, opening screening centers and even a drive-through center near the city hall. Individual cooperation has also been helpful as people disclosed their activities to the authorities and submitted themselves to proper testing.

As a result, the number of new cases has been decreasing. We hope that this trend continues along with the increase in the number of patients being discharge from the hospital which is at 5 as of Wednesday, 11th of March.

This is not the time to panic but it’s the time to be aware and work together to get through this. Strong reminders on proper personal hygiene and how to protect everyone, not only ourselves, are constantly being reiterated. Let us not do this just for ourselves but especially for the high-risk individuals like the pregnant women, babies, elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.