Over 2,300 quarantined, 1,800 schools closed in S Korea over MERS


SEOUL, Jun 8:  More than 2,300 people are quarantined and over 1,800 schools closed amid fears of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak in South Korea.
On Sunday, South Korean health officials increased the death toll to six by announcing to more deaths.
A 75-year-old man was pronounced dead in a hospital in the capital Seoul while an 80-year-old one diagnosed in Daejeon, 140 kilometers south of the capital, also succumbed to the virus later.
At least 1,255 schools are located in Gyeonggi province, the area outside Seoul where the outbreak started. Other closed schools are located in the Gangnam region, near the Samsung Seoul hospital, the most affected hospital in the city.
In total, 87 people have contracted the virus, according to health officials.
More than 1,500 people in Seoul to self-quarantine because they unknowingly attended a symposium with a doctor who was infected with MERS, Seoul’s mayor Park Won-soon said.
Moreover, Kang Shin-myun, Seoul police chief, said the forces would enforce quarantine orders for those suspected of having MERS.
The deadly virus has so far infected a total 64 people in South Korea, making it the biggest outbreak of MERS outside the Middle East. The virus first emerged in the Middle East, and was discovered in September 2012 in a Qatari man who had traveled to Saudi Arabia.
The outbreak in South Korea has been traced to the original case of a 68-year-old man diagnosed with the virus after coming back from Saudi Arabia.
MERS, a cousin of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS),  causes coughing, fever, pneumonia and kidney failure but it  does not appear to be as contagious as SARS, which killed some 800 people in a 2003 epidemic.
There currently is no vaccine or treatment for the disease, which spreads through close contact with infected people but is not airborne.
MERS had a high fatality rate of over 40 percent globally before the outbreak in South Korea, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In South Korea, the death rate from the virus has reached 7.8 percent.


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