March 3, 2020
Patients in Daegu die waiting for hospital beds.
Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that COVID-19 deaths in South Korea are linked to existing medical conditions, and elderly people are especially vulnerable.
Twenty-eight of the 4,840 patients who contracted the new coronavirus have died so far, with the fatality rate standing at about 0.5 percent — a fifth of the 2.3 percent figure reported in China. Korea reported its 29th fatality Tuesday morning in Daegu.
The average age of the patients who died is 68.5 years, and it took four days on average for them to die after diagnosis.
All had health issues such as heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, diabetes or high blood pressure.
The majority of the deaths have been reported in Daegu and nearby North Gyeongsang Province, and a number of patients have died at home while waiting for hospital beds.
Of the 18 patients who died in Daegu, five died while in home isolation waiting to be admitted to hospitals. Nine people have died in nearby North Gyeongsang Province.
One patient, a 77-year-old woman who lived in North Gyeongsang Province, tested positive for the virus after she died in the early hours of Tuesday morning at an emergency room.
Seven were former patients at a psychiatric ward at Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo, a county in North Gyeongsang Province.
The National Medical Center’s clinical committee for new infectious diseases said all the deceased had preexisting lung problems, which is believed to have caused the disease to progress rapidly.
The committee said the high infection and death rates at the mental health facility were attributable to shared communal spaces and poorly ventilated rooms, with windows and doors shut to prevent patients from hurting themselves.
The only known non-Korean to have died here was a 35-year-old Mongolian who came to Korea on Feb. 12 for a liver transplant.
The patient, who had chronic liver disease and renal failure, was taken to Myongji Hospital in Goyang on Feb. 24, where he was tested for the virus and came out positive. He suffered two consecutive cardiac arrests in the morning and early afternoon of Feb. 25, but was resuscitated both times through CPR. He died later that day at 5:50 p.m.
He was also the youngest patient to die. No other patient in his or her 30s has died.