5th person dies of MERS virus in South Korea

2015-06-07 13:55
(Jung Yeon-Je, AFP)

(Jung Yeon-Je, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Seoul - A fifth person in South Korea has died of the MERS virus, as the government announced Sunday that it was strengthening measures to stem the spread of the disease and public fear.

Sixty-four people in South Korea have been infected by Middle East Respiratory Syndrome since last month in the largest outbreak outside the Middle East. Hundreds of schools have closed and more than 2 000 people are isolated at their homes or in facilities after having contact with patients infected with the virus, health officials said.

Acting Prime Minister Choi Kyung-hwan said Sunday that there was no reason to believe that the virus would significantly spread further in the country.

"So far, all the MERS cases have been hospital-associated, and there has been no case of an infection in other social settings. We think we have a chance at putting the outbreak under total control," Choi told a news conference.

While the virus has no vaccine, health experts say it spreads through close contact with infected people and not through the air.

The U.N. health agency has reported that there's no evidence yet in South Korea of "sustained transmission in the community."

Departing from its earlier policy, the government announced the names of the 24 hospitals where the MERS patients have been diagnosed or had been treated before their condition was confirmed. This will allow people who have visited those facilities in recent weeks to report themselves if they are showing symptoms similar to MERS-related illnesses, Choi said.

While the government had earlier identified one hospital in a city south of Seoul where the first MERS case was confirmed, and another in southern Seoul that has been a significant source of infections, it had been reluctant to release the full list of hospitals over concerns that it would cause a disruption in services if people started avoiding them.

Choi said the government will also strengthen its monitoring of the hundreds of undiagnosed patients who are quarantined at their homes because officials believe they might have contracted the virus. It includes tracking their whereabouts through cellphone signals.

More than 1,200 schools were closed at the end of last week in reaction to fears about the spreading virus, according to the Ministry of Education. The number will surely rise on Monday after education authorities in Seoul and the neighboring Gyeonggi Province on Sunday ordered more schools in their regions to participate in the temporary closures.

MERS was discovered in 2012 and has mostly been centered in Saudi Arabia. It belongs to the family of coronaviruses that includes the common cold and SARS, and can cause fever, breathing problems, pneumonia and kidney failure. The virus has spread primarily through contact with camels, but it can also spread from human fluids and droplets.

Read more on:    south korea  |  health

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.