S Korea says MERS outbreak shows signs of subsiding
SEOUL – Agence France-Presse
AFP PhotoSouth Korea said June 19 that the MERS outbreak that has killed 24 people appears to have begun subsiding, as it reported one new case - the lowest rate of new infections in two weeks.
This brought to 166 the total number of confirmed cases of the disease in the country since the first was confirmed on May 20, the health ministry said.
The number of people in quarantine had fallen 12 percent from June 18 to 5,930, a day after Thailand reported Southeast Asia’s first case of the deadly virus since the South Korean outbreak.
The government of President Park Geun-Hye has come under attack for its inadequate initial response but on June 18 World Health Organization (WHO) chief Margaret Chan expressed guarded optimism over South Korea’s ability to contain the outbreak.
She said Seoul was now “on a very good footing” after an initially slow response.
A village that was put under quarantine was opened up after two weeks of isolation early June 19, allowing its population of 102 people to resume normal activities.
“Apparently, the outbreak has started subsiding,” a health ministry official told journalists at a daily briefing in Seoul.
“But we have to wait and see whether more cases occur” in hospitals exposed to the virus, he added.
The latest confirmed case involved a 62-year-old man who contracted the virus while giving nursing care to an infected family member at Samsung Medical Centre in Seoul, the largest epicenter of the outbreak, linked to about half of all confirmed cases.
The hospital suspended services to non-MERS sufferers, with other patients being moved to different medical facilities, and would remain closed for other treatment at least until next week.
Currently, 112 patients are in hospital for treatment and 30 others have recovered and been released.