More than 680 in South Korea iso­lated over MERS fears

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE -

More than 680 peo­ple in South Korea are iso­lated af­ter hav­ing con­tact with pa­tients in­fected with a virus that has killed hun­dreds of peo­ple in the Mid­dle East, health of­fi­cials said Mon­day.

South Korea has re­ported 17 cases of Mid­dle East Re­s­pi­ra­tory Syn­drome since di­ag­nos­ing the coun­try’s first MERS ill­ness last month in a man who had trav­eled to Saudi Ara­bia. South Korea’s cases have con­nec­tions to the first pa­tient, ei­ther med­i­cal staff who treated him or pa­tients who stayed near the man at the hos­pi­tal be­fore he was di­ag­nosed and iso­lated.

Also, the son of one of the pa­tients ig­nored doc­tor’s or­ders to cancel a trip to China, where he was di­ag­nosed as that coun­try’s first MERS case last week. China iso­lated the South Korean man at a hos­pi­tal, and Hong Kong au­thor­i­ties said Sun­day that 18 trav­el­ers were be­ing quar­an­tined be­cause they sat near him, but they were not show­ing symptoms.

South Korean Health Min­istry of­fi­cial Kwon Jun- wook told re­porters Mon­day that 682 peo­ple who had close con­tact with the pa­tients, such as their fam­ily mem­bers and their med­i­cal staff, were iso­lated at their homes or state- run fa­cil­i­ties to pre­vent the spread of the dis­ease.

Min­istry of­fi­cials num­ber could rise.

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.

There have been 1,167 cases of the virus world­wide and 479 of the pa­tients have died, ac­cord­ing to the Euro­pean Cen­ter for Dis­ease Pre­ven­tion and Con­trol.




South Kore­ans wear­ing masks as a pre­cau­tion against the Mid­dle East Re­s­pi­ra­tory Syn­drome virus sit at an emer­gency room at Seoul Na­tional Uni­ver­sity Hos­pi­tal, Mon­day, June 1.

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