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Iran Press TV

Death toll from MERS outbreak in South Korea hits 14

Iran Press TV

Sat Jun 13, 2015 6:59AM

Another person has died of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in South Korea, pushing the death toll from the deadly outbreak in the East Asian state to 14.

South Korea health officials confirmed the 14th death from MERS on Saturday, reporting 12 new cases that brought to 138 the number of those infected with the disease in the country so far.

The latest MERS victim was a 68-year-old woman, who contracted the virus at a hospital in Pyeongtaek City, 65 kilometers (40 miles) south of the capital, Seoul.

An ambulance driver, who had moved a MERS patient, is also among the new infection cases.

It has been the biggest outbreak of MERS outside Saudi Arabia, where the virus was first traced. South Korea diagnosed the first MERS infection in a 68-year-old patient who had returned from a trip to the Saudi kingdom on May 20.

According to health officials, all the infections have been limited to hospitals and all the victims had pre-existing health conditions up until now.

Out of 133 people whose contacts have been traced, the largest single group of 60 people has contracted the deadly virus at Samsung Medical Center, one of the largest hospitals in Seoul.

More than 2,000 schools have been closed and over 3,500 people quarantined amid fears of a MERS outbreak in South Korea.

More MERS cases anticipated in South Korea

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has described the outbreak in South Korea as "large and complex," anticipating more cases there.

WHO experts and South Korean health officials have been involved in a joint study aimed at reviewing and containing the spread of MERS in the Asian state.

Keiji Fukuda, assistant director-general for health security at the WHO, on Saturday urged South Korea to quarantine and monitor all the potential carriers of the deadly virus, and to completely carry out infection prevention and control in all medical facilities.

The WHO also advised South Korea to ban all people suspected of being infected with MERS or having contact with the infected people from going abroad.

There is no vaccine or cure available for the virus yet, which is considered to be a deadlier but less infectious cousin of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that killed some 800 people in a 2003 epidemic in East Asia.

MRA/MKA/HRB



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