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Did he cough? Medical chief in hot water over gesture on TV

President Chung Ki-hyun. (KBS)
President Chung Ki-hyun. (KBS)
The chief of the state-run National Medical Center found himself in hot water on Monday over a cough-like gesture he made a day earlier on a TV program that discussed the new coronavirus, which has infected 27 people here.

President Chung Ki-hyun allegedly made a fist and coughed into his left hand, against the advice of the country’s health protection agency. The Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends coughing into one’s sleeve to help stop the spread of germs.

But, the hospital’s communications office told The Korea Herald that Chung had “cleared his throat” at the moment of his alleged disregard for the recommended coughing etiquette. That was different from coughing, the office said.

A replay of the action, available on the KBS website, shows Chung expelling air from his mouth for a second or two. It is hard to determine whether it was a cough or throat clearing.

On the program, Chung offered his assessment of the new virus, saying his hospital is taking to fight the disease, but the country might have to stay on alert until this summer. The medical chief assured viewers that the hospital has the expertise and experience to curb the spread.

“I’d like to ask the public to have faith in our medical system. Also, let’s not forget those most vulnerable to the disease,” he said.

By Choi Si-young (
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Korea Herald daum