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Credit card firms vigilant over fear of new coronavirus spread

Medical staff at the National Medical Center in Seoul are photographed in full-body protective suits on Jan. 28. (Yonhap)
Medical staff at the National Medical Center in Seoul are photographed in full-body protective suits on Jan. 28. (Yonhap)



Responding to the quick spread of the new coronavirus, South Korea’s credit card issuers are running a hotline with the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according the Credit Finance Association Tuesday.

Through the emergency communication line, the KCDC makes real-time requests to card companies for payment records to identify the places visited by the infected -- both Korean citizens and foreign nationals.

Health authorities are allowed to access the payment information of people confirmed to have been infected with certain illnesses or diseases, according to the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act. The act was revised and implemented in January 2016, after the outbreak and spread of Middle East respiratory syndrome the previous year.

The payment information includes the use of credit and debit cards as well as rechargeable public transportation cards.

“The special report system has been active for quite some time but it used to take a day or two to gather and hand over payment-related data. Now the process can be done within a day,” an official from the card industry said.

The card companies are gearing to reinforce their staff to better respond to the coronavirus issue, should the number of confirmed patients increase.

On Tuesday, the KCDC confirmed the 16th case of novel coronavirus infection here.

By Kim Young-won (wone0102@heraldcorp.com)
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