CES 2022: Samsung and SK group officials test positive for COVID-19 after attending U.S. exhibition

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More than 30 officials from large South Korean corporations who attended the giant CES tech show in Las Vegas last week tested positive for COVID-19 in the United States, industry sources and a company said on Wednesday.

About 20 officials from Samsung Electronics and about six from SK Group, the parent company of energy company SK Innovation and chip maker SK Hynix, were among those who tested positive for the virus after attending CES, the sources said. They refused to be identified as they were not allowed to speak to media.

Hyundai Heavy Industries said six of its employees who attended CES 2022 tested positive and quarantined in the US, and some have since been released.

Meanwhile, “several” Hyundai Motor and Hyundai Mobis officials attending CES also tested positive upon their return to South Korea, South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported, citing an unidentified industry source, without specifying the exact number of cases .

“Many Korean business people who attended CES are now infected with COVID-19,” Son Young-rae, a senior official with the South Korean Ministry of Health, told a briefing.

“We will immediately contact those who attended the event and conduct epidemiological studies, but we urge local business people or those who are in Korea who attended the event to undergo PCR testing as soon as possible “, he said.

Most of the Samsung officials who tested positive were flown back to Korea from Nevada on two charter flights and arrived late in Seoul on Tuesday, and the rest of Samsung officials are expected to be flown back on Wednesday, South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported, citing unknown sources the industry.

Samsung officials are being moved 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), the operator of CES, did not have an immediate response.

Nevada state health officials said, “Many new cases had recent travel history, attended events, and visited multiple places where they could possibly have acquired their infection.” They said they had “no evidence linking the recent surge in COVID-19 cases to CES”.

Samsung Electronics declined to confirm details of the cases. It said it had “taken a number of steps to protect the health and well-being of (CES) attendees,” including requiring vaccines, masking requirements, social distancing protocols, and providing testing to all staff during the Week.

The SK Group declined to confirm, referring to its policy of not disclosing personal data. Hyundai Motor Group did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

South Korea reported 381 cases of infections 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 Department official Son said the surge in infections overseas was mainly due to the spread of the Omicron variant, although the number of CES attendees who tested positive had some impact.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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