MERS-infected doctor contacted over 1,000 people in S. Korea

June 4, 2015
Hospital workers and visitors wearing masks pass by a precaution against the MERS, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, virus at a quarantine tent for people who could be infected with the MERS virus at Seoul National University Hospital in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, June 3, 2015. South Korea on Tuesday confirmed the country's first two deaths from MERS as it fights to contain the spread of a virus that has killed hundreds of people in the Middle East.(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Hospital workers and visitors wearing masks pass by a precaution against the MERS, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, virus at a quarantine tent for people who could be infected with the MERS virus at Seoul National University Hospital in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, June 3, 2015. South Korea on Tuesday confirmed the country’s first two deaths from MERS as it fights to contain the spread of a virus that has killed hundreds of people in the Middle East.(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

SEOUL, June 4 (Yonhap) — A medical doctor in Seoul came into contact with over 1,000 citizens while infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the city government said Thursday, sparking concerns of the further spread of the deadly virus.

The doctor, who works for a large general hospital in the capital city, attended large-scale events on the weekend, even after he was ordered into quarantine last week for showing suspected symptoms, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

“On Saturday, the doctor attended the union meeting for the reconstruction of an apartment complex in Gaepo-dong, Seoul, which was attended by a total of 1,565 local people,” Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said in an emergency briefing.

“He also attended two meetings of medical societies he is affiliated with on Saturday and Sunday, and visited several other public places,” he added.

On Monday, he was confirmed as testing positive for MERS and sent to a public facility for MERS patients. He contracted the virus after coming into contact with the country’s 14th MERS patient at the hospital where he works, according to the city officials.

Criticizing the central government for not sharing the relevant information with the municipal government and not doing enough to contain the virus, the mayor vowed “to devise the city’s own countermeasures to protect citizens.”

Since the outbreak began some two weeks ago, South Korea has seen three deaths. As of Thursday, authorities have placed more than 1,600 people in quarantine.

MERS is a viral respiratory illness that is fairly new to humans with only some 1,100 confirmed cases reported throughout the world. There currently is no vaccine or treatment for the disease.

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