11 December 2018
Workers examine a metro car in Seoul for traces of the MERS virus. Photo: Reuters
Workers examine a metro car in Seoul for traces of the MERS virus. Photo: Reuters

S Korea reports 13 new MERS cases, 2 more deaths

South Korea’s Health Ministry said Wednesday two more people have died in the country’s outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and 13 new cases have been reported, taking the total to 108.

The two deaths, both cancer patients, bring the number of fatalities to nine.

All those who died had been suffering serious ailments before they tested positive for the MERS virus, the ministry said.

The 13 new cases were all linked to hospitals, it said.

South Korea’s infections have all been traced to a man who developed MERS after returning from a trip to the Middle East early last month and who came into contact with other patients at a hospital before being diagnosed.

The outbreak has caused public alarm, with more than 2,200 schools closing or cancelling classes, Reuters reported.

Hong Kong and other places in the region have issued advisories against travel to South Korea and stepped up screening of inbound passengers.

The World Health Organization (WHO), which began work Tuesday on a joint mission with South Korea to analyze the virus and review the country’s response, has yet to recommend any curbs on travel or trade with South Korea.

South Korea’s new cases bring the total number of MERS cases globally to 1,257 based on WHO data, with at least 448 related deaths.

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

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