TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – About 70 South Koreans who attended the technology fair Consumer Electronic Show CES in Las Vegas, USA, last week tested positive for Covid-19. Among them, including a number of executives and staff of large South Korean companies.
About 20 people from Samsung Electronics and six at SK Group, the parent of energy firm SK Innovation and chipmaker SK Hynix, were among those who tested positive for the virus after attending CES, sources at the company were quoted as saying. Reuters, Wednesday, January 12, 2022.
The cases risk dealing a blow to South Korea’s Covid-19 surveillance, after the country just lowered its daily infection count from a record high in December by reinstating tough social distancing rules and widely adopting vaccine passports in public locations.
Hyundai Heavy Industries said six of its employees who attended CES tested positive while in the United States and quarantined, but some have tested negative.
A number of employees of Hyundai Motor and Hyundai Mobil who attended CES also tested positive after arriving back in South Korea, South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported, citing unnamed industry sources.
About 70 participants, all South Korean nationals, had tested positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. About 340 South Korean companies participated in CES.
“Many Korean businessmen who attended CES … are now confirmed to be infected with Covid-19,” Son Young-rae, a senior official with South Korea’s Ministry of Health, told a briefing.
“We immediately contacted the parties participating in the event and conducted an epidemiological investigation, but we urge domestic entrepreneurs or those in Korea who attended the event to immediately undergo a PCR test,” he said.
Most of the Samsung officials who tested positive were flown back to Korea from Nevada on two chartered flights, arriving on Tuesday evening Seoul time, and others are expected to be flown back on Wednesday, South Korean newspapers said. Chosun Ilbo report.
Samsung officials were transferred to quarantine facilities in South Korea and most were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms, the newspaper said.
A spokesman for the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), operator of CES, has not yet confirmed.
The Nevada state health authority said, “Many of the new cases had a history of recent travel, attended events, and had visited multiple locations where they could potentially contract the infection.” They said they “have no evidence linking the recent spike in Covid-19 cases to CES.”
Samsung Electronics declined to confirm details of the case. They said they were “taking a number of steps to protect the health and well-being of participants (CES)”, including requiring vaccines, masks, social distancing protocols and providing testing for all employees throughout the week.
SK Group declined to comment on the case, citing its policy not to disclose personal information. Hyundai Motor Group did not respond to a request for comment.
South Korea reported 381 cases of infection from overseas, bringing the country’s daily number of infections to 4,388 as of Tuesday.
Health ministry official Son said the increase in infections contracted overseas was seen mainly due to the spread of the Omicron variant, although the number of CES participants who tested positive did have some effect.