Police arrest 8 people for spreading false MERS rumors

June 10, 2015
South Korean nuns wearing mask as a precaution against MERS, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, virus. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

South Korean nuns wearing mask as a precaution against MERS, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, virus. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

SEOUL, June 10 (Yonhap) — Police said Wednesday they have booked eight people for allegedly distributing false MERS-related rumors involving hospitals as well as patient information without consent.

Five of them are suspected of distributing rumors that certain hospitals are treating patients of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, which has killed nine and infected more than a hundred in South Korea, the National Police Agency (NPA) said. The five face charges of business obstruction and libel.

Two out of the eight are provincial civil servants who allegedly made public a list of suspected MERS cases without consent.

The remaining one is charged with spreading false rumors while posing as a reporter.

The vast majority of rumors were distributed before the government released the list of MERS-hit hospitals last Sunday.

Earlier this month, police vowed to strictly punish those who disseminate false rumors about MERS due to growing anxiety over the disease.

MERS is a viral respiratory illness that was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. The disease had a high fatality rate of about 40 percent before the outbreak in South Korea. Most of the deceased were old or had compromised immune systems.

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