More than 1,300 quarantined in S. Korea to stop MERS

June 3, 2015
(Newsis)

Among the 1,312 people at government-designated quarantine facilities or in their homes, 398 have shown symptoms like fever and respiratory problems and are being tested. (Newsis)

By Kim Se-jeong

More than 1,300 people have been quarantined in their homes or at hospitals and medical facilities after coming into contact with confirmed or suspected sufferers of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). This is 500 more than the previous day, the government said Wednesday.

It also confirmed five additional cases of the disease, bringing confirmed cases to 30 people, two of whom have died. Among the 28 remaining cases, three patients are in critical condition, an official said.

The MERS outbreak started on May 20 with a patient who had visited several countries in the Middle East.

Among the 1,312 people at government-designated quarantine facilities or in their homes, 398 have shown symptoms like fever and respiratory problems and are being tested.

The government also confirmed an additional case of tertiary infection Wednesday, following the first two cases a day before. The third person stayed at a hospital where the 16th patient stayed, like the two previous cases of tertiary infection.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare expects the number of such cases to increase but maintains the view that they will not threaten the public because all transmission happened in hospitals.

But as the number of suspected cases rises, the ministry said it was considering designating several hospitals exclusively for MERS treatment and tests.

President Park Geun-hye chaired an emergency meeting with related ministers to review quarantine measures and discuss further action.

“We have to check what the problem is so far, what the current situation is and what measures we can take,” Park said. “And then we should let people know such information.”

Park said the government will form a taskforce comprised of experts from the private sector and officials from the health ministry to control the situation and stop the spread of the virus.

The team’s work will be assisted by a support group jointly organized by relevant ministries.

The Ministry of National Defense said it would delay reserve forces training for those who had recently returned from the Middle East or had visited hospitals treating confirmed patients.

The Ministry of Employment and Labor encouraged people who visited the hospitals or felt sick to take paid sick leave.

MERS hotlines have been operating since May 30, receiving more than 1,100 calls a day.

As public concern rises over a possible pandemic, calls are mounting for health authorities to disclose the names and locations of medical facilities where patients are being treated and where people are being isolated. But the government said it would only give the information to medical service providers.

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