South Korea MERS concerns – Two deaths reported and schools remain closed – tours cancelled - Public alarm growingRaymond Billings (Author) Published Date : Jun 02, 2015 19:51 IST
On Tuesday, South Korea reported for the first time, two deaths resulting from an outbreak of MERS or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome which has infected some 25 people in 2 weeks. As official scrambled to contain the outbreak, public alarm is growing. More than 700 people have been isolated in South Korea for suspected MERS infection that is caused by a coronavirus. This virus belongs to the same family as that of SARS which broke out in 2003. The death rate in the case of MERS is significantly higher than that of SARS and that adds to the concerns of the officials as well as the public. The situation is also compounded by the fact that there is no vaccine or cure for MERS as of now.
On Monday, a 58 year old woman who had contact with the first patient in South Korea died from respiratory failure, according the Health Ministry. Another casualty was a 71 year old man with a history of kidney ailments who was receiving respiratory support.
On Tuesday, the health ministry in South Korea reported 7 new cases that includes the woman who died, taking the total confirmed cases to 25. After UAE and Saudi Arabia, South Korea presently has the highest number of MERS cases, according to the European CDPC,
Choi Kyung Hwan, the Deputy Prime Minister said the credibility of the government was at stake after the criticism against officials for failure to contain the virus after overlooking the first patient s symptoms initially. He added that the government would now bring all its health related capabilities together to work towards dissolving the concerns and anxiety quickly.
In 2012 the death rate from MERS stood at 38% when the disease was first identified in humans, as confirmed by WHO figures, with those already suffering from renal ailments, respiratory problems and elderly patients being at greater risk according to a doctor in South Korea.
In comparison, SARS recorded a death rate between 9 and 12 percent with patients above 65 recording a death rate of more than 50% as given out by the U S National Library of Medicine.
While the WHO has thus far not recommended any trade or travel restrictions for South Korea, the border control authorities have banned overseas travel for people isolated with suspected infection, according to health ministry officials.
Some of the major employers in South Korea, such as Hyundai have asked their employees to avoid trips to Middle East and even keep off overseas travel unless it was very essential.
One elementary school and seven kindergartens close to the hospital in the Gyeonggi province that reported the first death have been ordered shut for the week.
South Korea MERS concerns – Two deaths reported and schools remain closed – tours cancelled - Public alarm growing