Up to 209 schools closed to prevent spread of MERS

June 2, 2015
A quarantine worker disinfects a temporarily-closed elementary school classroom in South Korea. (Yonhap)

A quarantine worker disinfects a temporarily-closed elementary school classroom in South Korea. (Yonhap)

 

UPDATED (Yonhap) — Up to 209 schools in South Korea are either closed or plan to shut down temporarily to prevent the spread of a deadly virus that has killed two South Koreans, officials said Tuesday.

Most of the closures are in Gyeonggi Province where a 58-year-old woman died on Monday before she was confirmed to have been infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. She is one of the two people who died after being in contact with the country’s first MERS patient.

South Korea says 23 other people have been confirmed as MERS patients.

The number of kindergartens and elementary, middle and high schools that have suspended classes in the province that surrounds Seoul has reached 183, said officials of the Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education.

In North Chuncheong Province, five elementary schools decided to suspend classes after a teacher at one of the schools came in close contact with a MERS patient.

The teacher is known to have visited his father on May 23 before the father was diagnosed with MERS on Tuesday.

The teacher also interacted with instructors working at three other elementary schools last weekend.

Meanwhile, a kindergarten in South Chuncheong Province also decided to close temporarily, and the numbers are increasing nationwide.

Still, the Education Ministry said it is not considering a nationwide suspension of classes or shutdown of schools.

MERS is a viral respiratory illness that is new to humans, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There had been only 1,142 reported cases in 23 countries since the first case was confirmed in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

Most people infected with MERS develop severe acute respiratory illness, including a fever, a cough and shortness of breath. There currently is no vaccine or treatment for the disease that has a very high fatality rate of over 40 percent.

The World Health Organization said food hygiene practices should be observed and people should avoid drinking raw camel milk or camel urine, or eating meat that has not been properly cooked.

The U.N. health agency said on its website that it “does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it currently recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions.”

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**This article has been updated.

3 Comments

  1. Scott Pearson

    June 2, 2015 at 7:55 PM

    Rats! I just bought that giant jug of camel urine, too!

    • Keating

      June 4, 2015 at 12:03 AM

      I know, right. Now I’m stuck with a box full of camel toe. SMH

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