South Korea’s MERS cases rise to 122

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South Korea’s Health Ministry on Thursday announced that the total cases of people infected with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) Coronavirus stands at 122 after 14 new cases were reported yesterday.

The country is battling the outbreak of the rare viral disease, a breakout highest outside of Saudi Arabia. Among the newly reported cases was a pregnant woman who contracted the virus at the emergency ward of a Seoul hospital that has been linked to a number of other confirmed cases, the ministry said.

 

Eight of the 14 new cases in South Korea, including the pregnant woman, have been linked to the same Seoul hospital, the health ministry said.

The woman’s parents had also previously tested positive to MERS, the ministry said. The woman was reported to be in stable condition.

President Park Guen-hye postponed her visit to the States amidst the spread of the disease.

Meanwhile, a joint South Korean-World Health Organization mission on Wednesday recommended that schools be reopened as they were unlikely to spread the disease, just as school boards recommended more be shut.

“I urge citizens to refrain from excessively reacting to MERS for the sake of the economy,”

Ms. Park said on Tuesday, assuring people that the fear of contagion should not be extremely worrisome.

First identified in humans in 2012, MERS is caused by a coronavirus from the same family as the one that triggered China’s deadly 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). There is no cure or vaccine, yet.

The fear of contracting the disease has forced people to stay indoors and hampered tourism.  South Korea’s central bank on Thursday cut its benchmark interest rate to a new record low of 1.50% to support the economy.

South Korea’s new cases bring the total number of MERS cases globally to 1,271 based on WHO data, with at least 448 related deaths.

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