K-pop group ASTRO’s Cha Eun-woo tests positive for Covid-19

K-pop boy band ASTRO member and actor Cha Eun-woo has tested positive for Covid-19 as South Korea grapples with a surge in new daily cases due to the spread of the Omicron variant.

“Today (18th), ASTRO artist Cha Eun-woo conducted a preemptive rapid antigen test due to poor condition and confirmed that it was positive,” said his agency, Fantagio.

ASTRO's Cha Eun-woo (Instagram)

It added, “Currently, Cha Eun-woo has no symptoms other than mild cold symptoms, and will focus on treatment and recovery according to the guidelines of the Covid-19 quarantine authorities.”

As a result, the agency said, it is difficult for ASTRO's Cha Eun-woo to participate in scheduled activities and his resumption of activities in the future will be announced after confirming his release date from quarantine.

Besides being in ASTRO, Cha Eun-woo has starred in Korean dramas including "Gangnam Beauty" and "True Beauty."

The Korean government has changed the policy in the confirmation of cases.

Before, when a person tests positive for a rapid antigen test (RAT), he has to undergo a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for confirmation.

With the surge in daily cases, Korea’s The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters has decided to admit positive RAT results as positive diagnosis. A person who tests in a RAT no longer needs to undergo a PCR test.

“Temporarily for a one-month period starting March 14, those who test positive with emergency PCR tests and symptomatic individuals who test positive with professional rapid antigen tests may, based on professional judgment of the physician in charge, be considered equivalent to patients with confirmed Covid-19 diagnosis and thus eligible for Covid-19 medical care,” according to the government agency.

It explained that “this measure was taken in consideration of the fact that the diagnostic performance of RTAs had considerably increased with the recent surge in Covid-19 prevalence,” citing that those who test positive in RATs and subsequent PCR test stood at 94.7 percent.

“As such, those who test positive in RATs performed at community clinics are not required to visit public health centers, etc., for PCR testing and become immediately eligible for physician consultation/diagnosis/prescription at community clinics,” it said.

South Korea has recorded 407,017 new Covid-19 on March 18, a day after tallying a record 621,328 new daily cases on March 17. South Korea now has 8.65 million confirmed Covid-19 cases.

At least 230 Korean stars, mostly K-pop idols, have tested positive for Covid-19 since Jan. 19.