S.Korea Reports Another MERS Death, Sees Signs Outbreak Easing

MERS Prevention Measures In Seoul
A medical staff employee exits a closed hospital emergency room and restricted area in Seoul. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

South Korea reported one more fatality from Middle East respiratory syndrome, raising the death toll to 25 as of Sunday, amid signs the viral outbreak may be easing.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare added three new patients to its roll of confirmed infections from the virus that arrived in the country a month ago. The number of people in quarantine has dropped to 4,035 from 5,197 while 43 who contracted the virus have now been discharged from hospitals, up from 36.

MERS, a coronavirus from the Arabian peninsula, has infected more than 1,100 people and killed more than 400 worldwide, mostly in the Middle East. The virus can lead to severe illness including respiratory failure or septic shock. No vaccine or cure has yet been found.

In Thailand, some 176 people were exposed to the Southeast Asian nation’s sole MERS case, and that patient’s condition has improved, Surachet Sathitiniramai, acting public health permanent secretary, said Sunday. The patient has no fever and tests results were found negative on three of the patient’s cousins.

Ending the spread of MERS in South Korea may take “a little longer” than hoped, Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, said last week at a press conference in Seoul.

South Korean President Park Geun Hye postponed a U.S. trip to oversee her government’s handling of the MERS outbreak. Park is working on organizing an October summit with President Barack Obama, the Munhwa Ilbo newspaper reported Friday, citing an unidentified diplomatic source.

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