Korean J Intern Med.  2020 Jul;35(4):765-770. 10.3904/kjim.2020.159.

Selecting coronavirus disease 2019 patients with negligible risk of progression: early experience from non-hospital isolation facility in Korea

  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Infection Control Office, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea
  • 3Public Healthcare Center, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea
  • 4Department of Pediatrics, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 5Department of Family Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea


As the novel coronavirus (coronavirus disease 2019 [COVID-19]) outbreak progresses rapidly, staying home is recommended for suspected patients; however, the safety of this recommendation is uncertain. In Korea, non-hospital facilities called “living and treatment centers (LTCs)” have been established since 5 March 2020. The LTCs provided a unique opportunity to evaluate the safety of selection criteria for low-risk groups.
Between 5 March and 9 April 2020, patients with COVID-19 who met the following criteria were admitted to the LTC; alert, age below 65 years old, no underlying disease or well-controlled underlying disease, body temperature below 38.0°C, whether taking antipyretics or not, and no dyspnea. Patients were closely observed by doctors or nurses’ interviews twice a day and transferred to hospitals when symptoms worsened.
A total of 113 patients were admitted to the LTC; 52.2% were female, with a median age of 25 years (interquartile range, 21.5 to 39.5). Of 113 patients, 54 (47.8%) were asymptomatic at diagnosis, and 15 (13.3%) had no symptoms until they were released from isolation. During the follow-up period, two (1.8%) patients were transferred to a hospital but did not progress to severe status during hospitalization.
The risk of progression was negligible in COVID-19 patients who met the admission criteria for LTC at the time of diagnosis. LTCs could be a safe alternative considering shortage of hospital beds.


COVID-19; Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2
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