S. Korea re­ports 7th MERS death, vows to end the cri­sis


South Korea Tues­day re­ported its sev­enth death from Mid­dle East Re­s­pi­ra­tory Syn­drome ( MERS) as the gov­ern­ment — con­cerned about the eco­nomic im­pact — said it hoped to end the cri­sis this week.

Eight new in­fec­tions brought the to­tal num­ber of cases to 95 in the largest out­break out­side Saudi Ara­bia, fol­low­ing the di­ag­no­sis of the first pa­tient back on May 20.

The virus has caused wide­spread public anx­i­ety and led to a plunge in cinema ticket sales and dwin­dling at­ten­dance at base­ball games and other public events.

“Public con­cerns are ris­ing over the neg­a­tive im­pact of the MERS out­break on our econ­omy and so­ci­ety,” Act­ing Prime Min­is­ter Choi Kyung-hwan said dur­ing a meet­ing with top health of­fi­cials.

“So we have de­cided to ... launch an ac­tive, all-out re­sponse with the goal of end­ing the MERS cri­sis within this week,” said Choi, who is also fi­nance min­is­ter.

The lat­est fa­tal­ity was a 68-yearold woman who was in­fected by a MERS pa­tient at a hos­pi­tal in Seoul.

All the in­fec­tions so far have been re­stricted to hos­pi­tals, and the min­istry stressed that all seven who died had pre-ex­ist­ing health prob­lems.

The virus is con­sid­ered a dead­lier but less in­fec­tious cousin of Se­vere Acute Re­s­pi­ra­tory Syn­drome (SARS), which killed hun­dreds of peo­ple when it ap­peared in Asia in 2003.

There is no vac­cine or cure for MERS which, ac­cord­ing to World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion ( WHO) data, has a fa­tal­ity rate of around 35 per­cent.

“Peo­ple may be con­cerned, but I hope that they will not over­re­act and co­op­er­ate to en­sure that eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties will not be weak­ened,” Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye told a cabi­net meet­ing.

The out­break has hit the tourist in­dus­try, with more than 45,000 sched­uled vis­i­tors — mostly Chi­nese — can­celling trips to South Korea in the first week of June, the Korea Tourism Board said.


This hand­out photo taken on June 6, in Seoul and re­leased by wed­ding plan­ner “Sewing for the Soil” shows a young South Korean cou­ple, cen­ter, and dozens of guests stand­ing to­gether for a group photo — al­most all of their faces shielded with white masks.

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