South Korea reports third MERS death

South Korea confirmed on Thursday that a man who died a day earlier was infected with MERS, marking the third fatality in an outbreak of the often-deadly virus.

South Korea reports third MERS death

World Bulletin / News Desk 

South Korea on Thursday confirmed that a man who died a day earlier had been infected with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the third fatality in a virus outbreak that has fuelled growing alarm in the country.

The 82-year old South Korean, in hospital with asthma and bacterial pneumonia, had shared a room with others infected with MERS and died on Wednesday night, the health ministry said in a statement.

The victim became the 36th confirmed MERS infection in South Korea, which has the most cases outside the Middle East.

More than 1,100 schools were closed in South Korea on Thursday, while North Korea called for border checks.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye has demanded that everything be done to halt the outbreak, which began two weeks ago, brought into the country by a South Korean man returning from a business trip to the Middle East.

MERS first appeared in 2012 in the Middle East, where most of the 442 fatalities have been.

About 1,600 people have been quarantined in South Korea, most of them at home but some in medical institutions, a health ministry official said.

Soldiers have been confined to base in areas near hospitals where outbreaks have occurred, while parents from those areas may not visit children in the armed forces, a defence ministry official said.

Among the five other new South Korean cases reported on Thursday were two health workers who treated infected patients.

"We are in a war," said an official earlier on Thursday at a health centre in Seoul's wealthy Gangnam district, where panic spread when medical workers in protection suits were spotted near a hotel.

The official said a Middle Eastern guest at the hotel fell ill and was later quarantined in hospital.

MERS is caused by a coronavirus from the same family as that which caused SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which emerged in 2002-2003 and killed around 800 people worldwide.

MERS has a much higher death rate, of 38 percent, according to the World Health Organisation, but also spreads far less swiftly than SARS from person to person, making it less of a threat for now.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Haziran 2015, 13:58