S Korea reports 11th death from MERS outbreak
Seoul: South Korea today reported its 11th death from the MERS virus outbreak, but officials said they are seeing a fewer number of new infections and that it was unlikely there would be another large outbreak.
More than 120 people in South Korea have contracted Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) since the country reported its first case last month.
The outbreak has been contained only in hospitals but it has caused widespread fears and rumours, and about 2,790 schools and kindergartens remained closed till today.
South Korean officials believe the disease has peaked and it would begin to ease in coming days. Their belief is based on a view that the virus’ maximum two-week incubation period for those infected at a Seoul hospital considered as the main source of the outbreak ended today.
There are few other hospitals where additional cases were later reported. Their patients’ incubation periods have not ended, but officials said they are quarantining people who had contacts with infected people and monitoring them so that there is little chance of the virus spreading from those hospitals.
“We see no danger of an additional spread,” Jeong Eun-kyeong, a senior official from the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told a televised news conference.
She said only a small number of new infections could still be reported from those hospitals.
Some experts have said the outbreak could continue if there are a large number of infected people who evaded government quarantine measures and spread the virus.
The Health Ministry today reported just four new MERS cases, after registering 14 cases yesterday and 13 cases on Wednesday.
About 3,680 people were still isolated today after possible contacts with infected people, a decline from more than 3,800 yesterday, according to the ministry.
Senior ministry official Kwon Deok-cheol told the news conference that the public should stop worrying too much about the outbreak as the number of new cases were falling.
A 72-year-old MERS patient, who had pneumonia, died today and became the country’s 11th death linked to the MERS outbreak, the ministry said in a statement.