* About 70 cases among CES attendees -S.Korea health
* Samsung, SK, Hyundai Heavy employees test positive
* S.Korea health official urges attendees to take PCR test
* Nevada says no evidence linking COVID-19 surge with CES
SEOUL/SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 12 (Reuters) - About 70 South
Korean nationals who attended the giant CES tech trade show in
Las Vegas last week tested positive for COVID-19, health
authorities of the Asian country said on Wednesday.
These included some executives and staff of major South
Korean companies, according to industry sources and one company.
About 20 people from Samsung Electronics and
about six at SK Group, parent of energy firm SK Innovation
and chipmaker SK Hynix, were among those
who tested positive for the virus after attending CES, the
The cases risk dealing a blow to South Korea's COVID-19
control, after the country had just brought down daily number of
infections from record highs in December by restoring tough
social distancing rules and widely adopting vaccine passports at
Hyundai Heavy Industries said six of its
employees who attended CES tested positive while in the United
States and were quarantined, and some have been released since.
"Multiple" Hyundai Motor and Hyundai Mobis
employees who attended CES also tested positive
after arriving back in South Korea, South Korean newspaper
JoongAng Ilbo reported, citing an unidentified industry source
without specifying the exact number of cases.
About 70 attendees, all South Korean nationals, have tested
positive for COVID-19 as of Tuesday, according to the Korea
Disease Control and Prevention Agency. Some 340 South Korean
companies participated in CES, it added.
"Many Korean businesspeople who attended CES ... are now
confirmed to be infected with COVID-19," Son Young-rae, a senior
South Korean health ministry official, told a briefing.
"We are promptly contacting those who participated in the
event and conducting epidemiological investigations, but we urge
domestic businesspeople or those who are in Korea that attended
the event to undergo PCR tests as soon as possible," he said.
Most of the Samsung officials who tested positive were flown
back to Korea from Nevada in two chartered flights, arriving
late on Tuesday Seoul time, and the remaining Samsung officials
are expected to be flown back on Wednesday, South Korean
newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported, citing unidentified industry
The Samsung officials are being moved to quarantine
facilities in South Korea and most were asymptomatic or have
light symptoms, the paper said.
A spokesperson for Consumer Technology Association (CTA),
CES' operator, did not have an immediate response.
Nevada state health authorities said, "Many new cases have
had recent travel history, attended events, and have visited
multiple locations where they could potentially have acquired
their infection." They said they do "not have evidence linking
the recent surge in COVID-19 cases with CES."
Samsung Electronics declined to confirm details of the
cases. It said it "took a number of steps to protect the health
and well-being of (CES) attendees," including requiring
vaccines, mask mandates, social distancing protocols and
providing testing for all employees throughout the week.
SK Group declined to comment on the cases, citing its policy
of not disclosing personal information. Hyundai Motor Group did
not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The sources declined to be identified as they were not
authorized to speak to media.
South Korea reported 381 cases of infections contracted
overseas for Tuesday, a record, according to the Korea Disease
Control and Prevention Agency, bringing the daily number of
infections across the country to 4,388.
Health ministry official Son said the rise of infections
contracted overseas is seen mainly due to the spread of the
Omicron variant, although the number of CES attendees who tested
positive did have some effect.
(Reporting by Joyce Lee and Heekyong Yang in Seoul and Hyunjoo
Jin in San Francisco; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Muralikumar