The Outbreak Of Deadly Mers Disease In Korea, No Medicine For Cure
About MERS virus
MERS-CoV means Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus. Common symptoms: acute, serious respiratory illness with fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties; pneumonia; gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea.
Measures to prevent respiratory illness: avoid close contact, when possible, with anyone who shows symptoms of illness (coughing and sneezing); maintain good hand hygiene, other good preventive measures include avoiding uncooked or undercooked meats, unwashed fruits or vegetables, and drinks made without sterilized water. If you become sick while travelling, you should avoid close contact with other people while you are symptomatic; use good respiratory hygiene, such as coughing or sneezing into a sleeve or flexed elbow, medical mask, or tissue, and throwing used tissues into a closed bin immediately after use.
MERS virus in South Korea
In mid-June 2015, the most critical point of the spread of the MERS virus in South Korea. Prof. Jacob Lee said the MERS problem was started from the 1st patient’s delay in reporting to hospital, and when the same patient moved from Saint Mary hospital to different hospitals spreading MERS. Confirmed cases in Korea were the result of transmission within clinics and hospitals.
There were 24 hospitals in total where confirmed patients had either visited or stayed. Among them, six hospitals, including St. Mary’s Hospital in Pyeongtaek and the Samsung Medical Center in Seoul, were identified as having in-patients with MERS.
Central MERS Management Task Force Ministry of Health and Welfare held briefings on July 23, 2015. On July 23, there were 186 confirmed cases, and among them, 138
patients were discharged from the hospital and 36 died. 12 patients were hospitalized for treatment. Four of them were in critical condition relying on life support, including ventilators and ECMO devices (extra corporeal membrane oxygenation). Of the 12 patients, 11 were tested negative for the MERS virus two times, and eight were transferred from negative-pressure isolation rooms to general wards for continued treatment.
A total of 138 patients were discharged from the hospital. They received injections of antibiotics and antiviral drugs and other symptom-specific treatments. Patients were declared cured if they had no respiratory symptoms or fever and tested negative for MERS two consecutive times. Among the 36 who died, 91.7 percent, or 33 of them, were categorized as high-risk, either because of age or preexisting chronic conditions, including cancer or diabetes as well as heart, lung and kidney diseases and immunodeficiency disorder.
On the July 13th, According to Kwon Jun-Wook (Director General of Public Health Policy), There were no new patients or deaths in the preceding 2 weeks. No additional cases of MERS were reported for the 12 days as of July 13, the Minister of Health and Welfare also took charge of the Government-wide Meeting for MERS Response. A total of 14 health facilities where confirmed MERS cases were reported were designated intensive management hospitals.
Treatment and Prevention
Confirmed patients were treated safely at those hospitals equipped with negative pressure isolation wards so that there was no chance of contagion to the public. In the initial stage, the monitoring of those who were quarantined in their homes was somewhat insufficient. The Government swiftly established a system to match each person under quarantine with a public health center official or a public servant from local governments. Tracking of patients’ locations using their mobile phones was also carried out through consultations with the ministries concerned.
The Minister said ‘He hoped people would understand that all these measures were inevitable for the protection of families and neighbors. In announcing technical medical issues, the participation of civilian experts were to be expanded. He asked all people to take appropriate personal hygiene precautions and to play their part in the country’s efforts.’ Such as, early and complete identification of all contacts; quarantine or isolation and monitoring of all contacts and suspected cases; full implementation of infection, prevention and control measures; prevention of travel, especially internationally, of infected persons and contacts.
Infection management measures at medical facilities were strengthened, which prevented the further spread of the disease. Approximately 287 hospitals were designated MERS-free hospitals, where patients with severe respiratory conditions were admitted and treated entirely under quarantine. All medical facilities and emergency rooms were checked for proper record keeping on who had passed through. Hospital rooms, medical personnel and other resources necessary for quarantine and treatment of confirmed MERS patients were secured. Hospitals treating confirmed MERS patients and hospitals treating suspected MERS patients were designated by city and province and quarantine rooms were made available. Specialized personnel were dispatched, along with necessary medical equipment, to treat confirmed patients. Eight facilities were provided with a total of 116 personnel and equipment such as portable negative pressure containment systems and Level-D protective gear.
Measures were taken to compensate those affected in the response to the outbreak. Medical facilities received compensation for direct and indirect losses and other assistance. Those under home quarantine were provided with subsidies for living expenses and cost of treatment. Assistance was provided for funeral arrangements for the deceased. The Vice Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism told reporters, that the government increased
the budget for the tourism recovery program to about 13 billion Won. To that end, the necessary budget would be promptly disbursed using the disaster management fund and reserve fund.
A revised Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act was promulgated on July 6, strengthening the authority of disease control personnel and epidemiologists working in actual situations, increasing the number of epidemiologists, and strengthening the national disease management system to enable quicker responses.
MERS is not transmitted through the air. There has been no sustained transmission within the community, thorough containment of the virus is possible. Experts have said that the MERS virus, similar to the common flu, can be contained and prevented from spreading into the community through appropriate quarantine measures and adequate personal hygiene precautions.
The Minister asked for cooperation to ensure that excessive concerns did not produce unnecessary confusion. The political sector and local governments were also expected to put their confidence in the Government, so they would be able to respond together with composure, and he said he was confident the country would be able to successfully overcome the situation. He asked also for cooperation from the Korean people to ensure that excessive vigilance did not cause an undue slump in economic activity. He hoped the people would not be misled by unfounded rumors to the contrary.
A joint mission confirmed that the virus was clustered around health facilities and found no evidence that it was circulating in the community. “However, continued monitoring for this was critical,” said Dr. Fukuda.
The mission, comprised of experts in epidemiology, risk communications, virology, clinical management, infection prevention and control, as well as public health specialists, identified several reasons why the virus, which arrived in the country with a single infected traveller, was able to go on to infect large numbers of people in a relatively short time. These included: The fact that the MERS-CoV was unexpected and unfamiliar to most physicians in the Republic of Korea; Sub-optimal prevention and control measures in some hospitals, related in part to overcrowding in emergency rooms and patients in rooms with many beds; The possible impact of habits and customs such as socalled “doctor-shopping”, where patients seek care at a number of medical facilities, as well as visits to hospitalized patients by many friends and family members.
Epidemiological research and analysis was conducted as part of MERS response and eradication efforts. Relevant test specimens, clinical data and other research findings were collected and stored.
On June 8, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other ministries began a joint assessment with the World Health Organization on the current situation. International cooperation was carried out transparently with specialized organizations such as the WHO and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The Korea-WHO MERS Joint Mission presented its findings on June 13. In partnership with WHO and the U.S. CDC, a comprehensive assessment of Korea’s system for preventing the spread of new infectious diseases was carried out June 22-July 1.
In Manila, 13 June 2015 - A joint mission by the World Health Organization and the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare, “we know that there has been much anxiety about whether the virus in the Republic of Korea has increased its ability to transmit itself between humans,” said Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHO Assistant Director-General for Health Security who co-led the mission with Dr JongKoo Lee, Director, Center for Global Medicine, Seoul National University. “However, based on available sequencing studies of this virus, it does not appear to have changed to make itself more transmissible.”
Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism Second Vice Minister Kim Jong (2nd L)
MERS virus was seen from
Microscope in Korea
Paul Jennings (New Zealand) has been teaching English in universities in South Korea for seven years. He has a MA in TESOL. He also has been involved in volunteering and human rights events over the past ten years, and is an Associate Editor at the Global Digest magazine.