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5,000 in Quarantine as MERS Outbreak Continues to Spread in South Korea

June 16, 2015
Public Health

MERSOver 5,000 people are now in quarantine as South Korea continues to fight an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) that has so far cost 19 lives. The fatality rate for the disease is estimated at 12.3% by the South Korean Health Ministry, which is considerably lower than the 40% figure originally quoted.

The World Health Organisation says the outbreak is currently confined to medical facilities but it is likely more cases will occur. The first case was confirmed on 20 May when a 68-year-old man who had travelled to the Middle East was diagnosed with the virus, which can lead to complications such as pneumonia and kidney failure.

The South Korean government has released $45 million to purchase equipment and employ more medical staff in an attempt to prevent the virus spreading further. They will also start trials of an experimental blood plasma treatment that proved successful during the recent African Ebola outbreak.

Five cases of the disease have also been reported in Saudi Arabia in the last week, including one death – a 73-year-old man who died in the city of Turaba and had a pre-existing health condition. MERS was first known as ‘camel flu’ when it was identified in 2012; it is caused by a coronavirus from the same family as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which killed 775 people across the world in 2003.