The Latest: South Korea says kimchi won’t stop coronavirus
BEIJING (AP) — The Latest on the outbreak of a new virus from China (all times local):
Kimchi probably isn’t a wonder drug against a new virus that has sickened thousands in Asia.
South Korea’s Health Ministry said Friday the Korean staple dish made from fermented cabbage, chili peppers and garlic would provide no protection against the new type of coronavirus originating from China.
In a press release aimed at correcting misunderstandings about the illness and calming public fears, the ministry also says eating kimchi imported from China wouldn’t necessarily put a person at greater risk of infection.
The ministry says the best protection against the virus, which is spread through close personal contact and droplet infection, is to wash hands frequently.
During the SARS epidemic of 2003, some South Korean researchers claimed that kimchi possibly explained the country’s relatively low number of cases, saying that a type of bacteria created during the fermentation process would have been helpful in fighting off infections.
While such claims reportedly led to a boost in kimchi sales across Asia, most experts saw the argument as dubious.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry is urging its citizens not to travel to China because of the possibility of the further spread of a new virus.
Japan had previously warned people not to travel to the epicenter of the virus in Wuhan in China.
Officials in China and around the world are trying to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus. The U.S. has also advised against travel to China.
China has reported 9,692 confirmed cases with a death toll of 213 as of Friday, and the World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a global emergency.
Japan and South Korea have sent planes to fly back home more of their nationals from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of a new virus that has sickened nearly 10,000 people.
A chartered flight carrying more than 360 South Koreans arrived at an airport in Seoul on Friday. The evacuees underwent screenings for fever before boarding buses to quarantine facilities established in the central towns of Asan and Jincheon.
Residents there have protested government plans to place the evacuees in their neighborhoods, throwing eggs and other objects at visiting government officials.
A third charter plane from Japan meanwhile brought back 149 evacuees.
South Korea on Friday confirmed its seventh case, a 28-year-old man who visited Wuhan and developed a fever. Japan has 11 cases, and both countries have reported human-to-human transmissions.