22 January 2019
A medical worker at a hospital in Seoul moves a man suspected of carrying the MERS virus. Photo: AFP
A medical worker at a hospital in Seoul moves a man suspected of carrying the MERS virus. Photo: AFP

S Korea reports 8 more MERS cases, 7th death

South Korea’s health ministry said Tuesday there were eight new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Reuters reported.

The increase brings the total to 95 but is a sharp fall in the number of daily new cases from the 23 reported the day before.

The ministry also said a patient infected with the MERS virus has died, the seventh fatality in an outbreak that began last month.

Hong Kong has upgraded its response to the outbreak in South Korea, where concerns are growing about the economic impact of the disease, to “serious”.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye has called for an all-out national effort to eradicate the outbreak, which has been spreading since a businessman brought the virus home from a Middle East trip last month.

The country has the second-highest number of infections after Saudi Arabia, figures from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control show.

The seventh reported death in South Korea was that of a 68-year-old woman who had an existing heart ailment and had been in the emergency room of a Seoul hospital to which several previous confirmed cases had been traced.

Three of the cases newly reported on Tuesday came from the same hospital emergency room, which accounts for 37 out of the total of 95 cases, the ministry said.

All the cases of infection took place in healthcare facilities, it said.

About 2,500 people, who may have had contact with MERS patients, have been put under quarantine, some in hospitals but most at home.

Authorities have said they are using mobile phones to track people who violate quarantine.

South Korea’s new cases bring the total of MERS cases globally to 1,244, World Health Organization figures show, with at least 446 related deaths.

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