23 January 2019
Shoppers wearing masks walk along a street in Seoul. Photo: AFP
Shoppers wearing masks walk along a street in Seoul. Photo: AFP

WHO backs reopening of S Korean schools amid MERS

A joint South Korean-World Health Organization mission studying an outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) recommended schools be reopened, as they were unlikely to spread the disease, Reuters reported.

The recommendation came as the school boards of Seoul and surrounding Gyeonggi province announced the extension of school closures until Friday and recommended more be shut.

The Health Ministry said Wednesday two more people had died from MERS and announced 13 new cases, raising the total number of patients to 108 and prompting President Park Geun-hye to postpone a visit to the United States.

Her office said the coming week would be a “watershed” for the country’s response to the disease.

The outbreak, the largest outside Saudi Arabia, has fueled public anxiety, with thousands in quarantine and the number of schools closing rising to 2,474, including 22 universities.

Many people on the streets are wearing face masks, public transport is being disinfected and attendance at movie theaters and baseball games has tumbled.

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