S. Korea lifts blanket closure of schools over MERS

June 11, 2015
South Korean elementary school students wear masks as a precaution against the MERS, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, virus as they go to school in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, June 10, 2015. South Korea believes its MERS virus outbreak may have peaked, and experts say the next several days will be critical to determining whether the government's belated efforts have successfully stymied a disease that has killed seven people and infected nearly 100 in the country.(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

South Korean elementary school students wear masks as a precaution against the MERS, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, virus as they go to school in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, June 10, 2015. South Korea believes its MERS virus outbreak may have peaked, and experts say the next several days will be critical to determining whether the government’s belated efforts have successfully stymied a disease that has killed seven people and infected nearly 100 in the country.(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

SUWON, South Korea, June 11 (Yonhap) — The education office in the province where the MERS outbreak in South Korea began said Thursday classes will resume next week at schools it had ordered to shut down temporarily.

The Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education said schools in the seven areas it has asked to cancel classes starting June 7 will go back to business as usual after Friday.

The order has affected 1,255 schools and kindergartens in the region.

Education officials, however, said school principals may get in touch with them if they believe the situation early next week calls for another temporary shutdown.

The first South Korean to be diagnosed the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome was hospitalized in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, causing widespread panic among parents in the area. The virus has killed 10 people and sickened more than a hundred in the country.

MERS is a viral respiratory disease that is fairly new to humans, with the first case being reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. It has killed more than 40 percent of the diagnosed in about 20 countries, mostly in and around the Middle East.

The fatality rate in South Korea, however, has remained below 10 percent. The virus has mostly claimed the lives of the elderly or people with compromised immune systems here.

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