S. Korea fears MERS may have spread to new hos­pi­tal

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE -

South Korea on Satur­day said it was closely mon­i­tor­ing a hos­pi­tal in eastern Seoul over fears that hun­dreds of peo­ple there may have been ex­posed to the deadly MERS virus.

A 70- year- old woman who caught Mid­dle East Res­pi­ra­tory Syn­drome while vis­it­ing an in­fected rel­a­tive in a dif­fer­ent hos­pi­tal was feared to have spread the virus to the new site.

“We are fo­cus­ing our ef­forts in trac­ing con­tacts and iso­lat­ing peo­ple who came close to this pa­tient,” a se­nior health min­istry of­fi­cial told jour­nal­ists on Satur­day.

The woman died on June 25, two days af­ter she was di­ag­nosed, but due to the virus’s 14-day in­cu­ba­tion pe­riod, any­one she in­fected may only start show­ing symp­toms in the com­ing days.

The of­fi­cial said it was too early to say whether the out­break may be on the wane, given that new cases are ex­pected at the new site.

“We would be able to talk about any trend of the out­break only af­ter watch­ing the de­vel­op­ment at the hos­pi­tal,” he said.

The com­ments came as the coun­try re­ported one ad­di­tional MERS case, bring­ing the to­tal num­ber of con­firmed cases to 182 in the largest out­break of the deadly virus out­side Saudi Ara­bia.

How­ever, no ad­di­tional fa­tal­i­ties were re­ported over the past 24 hours, with the death toll stand­ing at 31, the health min­istry said.

The latest case in­volved a 27-year-old nurse at a hos­pi­tal in eastern Seoul who was be­lieved to have been in­fected while treat­ing a pa­tient.

She is the fifth con­firmed case at the hos­pi­tal, where more than 100 pa­tients who were ex­posed to the virus while un­der­go­ing dial­y­sis have been iso­lated since June 18.

Sus­pected case in Hong Kong

Of the 182 con­firmed cases, 90 peo­ple have re­cov­ered, 31 have died and 61 oth­ers are still be­ing treated — 13 of whom are listed in a crit­i­cal con­di­tion.

Most of the de­ceased had pre­ex­ist­ing med­i­cal con­di­tions, ac­cord­ing to the health min­istry.

Some 2,467 peo­ple were mean­while in iso­la­tion, down from 2,931 on Fri­day.

Mean­while in Hong Kong, im­ages on lo­cal media showed peo­ple wear­ing haz­mat suits at a ma­jor sub­way sta­tion clean­ing the es­ca­la­tors and mop­ping the floors af­ter a 17-year-old Korean man with a fever sought med­i­cal care at a clinic in the sta­tion.

The city’s health min­is­ter said the man was be­ing tested for MERS.

“To­day there is a pa­tient, he is a young Korean male and came to Hong Kong from the U.S. pass­ing through South Korea. He’s been in Hong Kong for around 10 days but to­day he had a fever,” the city’s health min­is­ter Ko Wing-man told re­porters.

The city has not re­ported any cases of MERS, though mul­ti­ple peo­ple have been tested for the virus.

The area out­side the clinic in the sta­tion was cor­doned off and the man has since been iso­lated in hos­pi­tal.

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