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MERS Confirmed Cases In South Korea Increase To 30
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Author:  niman [ Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:57 pm ]
Post subject:  MERS Confirmed Cases In South Korea Increase To 30

Five more confirmed MERS cases announced in South Korea.

Author:  niman [ Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: MERS Conf Cases In South Korea Increase To 30

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http://www.mw.go.kr/front_new/al/sal030 ... SEQ=322848

Author:  niman [ Wed Jun 03, 2015 8:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: MERS Confirmed Cases In South Korea Increase To 30

South Korea president urges calm as Mers outbreak closes schools
June 3, 2015 Updated: June 3

Seoul // South Korean President Park Geun-Hye urged officials to ease rising public panic on Wednesday over an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) that has infected 30 people, killed two and closed hundreds of schools.

With the World Health Organisation predicting further infections and the government under fire for its initial response, Ms Park convened an emergency meeting with top health officials and medical experts to map out a comprehensive quarantine strategy.

“Many South Koreans are getting anxious,” Ms Park said, urging “utmost efforts” to prevent further spread of the virus.

“Students and the elderly are among the most vulnerable ... so let’s discuss how to protect these people,” she added.

Earlier in the day, Education Minister Hwang Woo-Yea said more than 200 primary schools had temporarily shut down, as concerned parents withdrew their children.

Five new confirmed cases were reported overnight, making this the largest Mers outbreak outside Saudi Arabia, where the virus has killed more than 400 since 2012.

With new infections being reported on a daily basis, the outbreak has caused nationwide public alarm and seen fearful urban residents stocking up on face masks and hand sanitisers.

Dozens of public events have been cancelled, while more than 1,360 people who were exposed directly or indirectly to the virus have been placed under varying levels of quarantine.

Ms Park has already scolded health officials for their “insufficient” initial response, during which one infected man managed to travel to China despite warnings from doctors.

Mers, which has no known cure or vaccine, is considered a deadlier but less infectious cousin of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars), which killed hundreds of people when it appeared in Asia in 2003.

The two deaths reported so far were of a 58-year-old woman and a 71-year-old man.

The first, or “index” case — a 68-year-old man diagnosed after returning from a trip to Saudi Arabia — was reported on May 20.

“Given the number of clinics and hospitals that cared for the index case, further cases can be expected,” the Who said in a statement from Geneva on Tuesday.

The health body said it was closely monitoring the outbreak of what it described as an “emerging disease that remains poorly understood.”

The outbreak in South Korea is raising questions about whether the virus has undergone changes that could make it more infectious.

Malik Peiris, the University of Hong Kong virologist who played a key role in discovering that a novel coronavirus was the cause of Sars, said it is important researchers are able to characterise the virus as soon as possible.

“What is unusual is that for imported clusters this is by far the biggest, so one wonders whether the virus has undergone some change,” Mr Peiris said. It is also “desperately important to get the full genomic sequence information.”

MERS has now infected 1,161 people globally, with 436 deaths. More than 20 countries have been affected, with most cases in Saudi Arabia.

*Agence France-Presse and Bloomberg

http://www.thenational.ae/world/east-as ... es-schools?

Author:  niman [ Wed Jun 03, 2015 11:14 am ]
Post subject:  Re: MERS Confirmed Cases In South Korea Increase To 30

WHO supports member states in its response to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) within the Western Pacific Region

News release

MANILA, 3 JUNE 2015 - Since the emergence of the first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) case in the Republic of Korea, the World Health Organization Western Pacific Region has been on high alert, working closely with national authorities to support response efforts and prevent further spread of the virus.

To date, authorities in the Republic of Korea have confirmed 30 MERS-CoV cases with WHO, including the first (index) case in a person with a history of travel in the Middle East. All cases are linked to one chain of transmission including, 26 secondary and three tertiary cases.

On 2 June 2015, the Korean Centres for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed two deaths due to MERS-CoV. The first fatality was a 57-year-old woman, who had been treated as a suspected case and died of acute respiratory failure on 1 June 2015. Later test results came back positive for MERS-CoV. The second fatality was a 71-year-old man who was confirmed positive seven days ago and died on 1 June 2015.

Out of these secondary cases, one travelled to China on 26 May, before his diagnosis was confirmed on 29 May. He is a 44-year-old male, and is now undergoing treatment in isolation.

To strengthen response efforts, the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office established an Event Management Team, to coordinate and provide support in various areas, such as information and epidemiology, technical expertise and risk communications.

Based on evidence gathered, the MERS-CoV virus does not seem to pass easily from person-to-person unless there is close contact. There is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission. However, monitoring of the situation and contacts and information- gathering continues to better assess the risks associated with this event. Sequencing of the viruses obtained from patients in the Republic of Korea and China is also ongoing.

Consistent application of adequate infection protection control measures has been used to end transmission in previous clusters. WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry, nor are travel or trade restrictions recommended. Member states should continue with surveillance measures for acute respiratory infections and carefully review any unusual patterns.

For further information, please contact:

Mr David Koch
Public Information Officer
WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific
Telephone: +632 528 9991
Email: PIO@wpro.who.int

Ms Helena Humphrey
Risk Communications Officer
WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific
Telephone: +632 528 9986
Email: humphreyh@wpro.who.int

http://www.wpro.who.int/mediacentre/rel ... 150603/en/

Author:  niman [ Wed Jun 03, 2015 11:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: MERS Confirmed Cases In South Korea Increase To 30

Fear of MERS Virus Leads Over 230 South Korean Schools to Close

Tourists wearing protective masks in Seoul, South Korea, on Wednesday. Alarm was growing in the country over an outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome. Credit Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

SEOUL, South Korea — More than 230 schools in South Korea have temporarily shut down, officials said on Wednesday, as fears of Middle East respiratory syndrome spread through the country.

Thirty South Koreans have tested positive for the virus that causes the disease, which has killed hundreds of people in 25 countries, mostly in Saudi Arabia. The outbreak in South Korea is the largest reported outside the Middle East, where the virus first emerged in 2012 and where a vast majority of the more than 1,100 cases and over 470 deaths reported have occurred.

Two of the South Korean patients died on Monday, and three others were in critical condition, health officials said on Wednesday. The authorities were also awaiting test results for 99 people suspected of being infected. The number of people isolated at home or in state-run quarantine centers while officials monitored them for symptoms had risen to 1,364 from 790 a day earlier.

So far in South Korea, all the reported cases of the syndrome, known as MERS, were found among medical staff members, patients or visitors at five hospitals. But the school closings were just one demonstration of a widespread public suspicion about the government’s response to the situation.

The South Korean education minister, Hwang Yoo-Wea, announced class cancellations and precautionary measures after the virus killed two. By Reuters on Publish Date June 3, 2015.
“A lot of fear we see now is rooted in the distrust of the government and what it says,” said Yu Min-yeong, head of Acase, a crisis management consulting firm based in Seoul.

The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that although a large outbreak outside the Middle East was a new development, it was not recommending any screening procedures at South Korean ports of entry, “or travel or trade restrictions with regard to this event.”

In an advisory posted on its website, the organization also said that it expected that additional cases would be reported by the South Korean health authorities, but that “consistent application of adequate infection and prevention and public health measures” has stopped transmission of the disease.

“There is no reason for people to panic, and nothing so far that suggests to me that the virus has changed to become more dangerous,” said Dr. Allison McGeer, an expert on infection control at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

Still, as the number of cases grew, alarm increased in South Korea, where many people remain traumatized by the sinking of the Sewol ferry in April last year, a disaster that killed 304 people. The high death toll has often been attributed to the government’s failure to respond quickly in the hours immediately after the accident.

Many South Koreans have canceled hospital appointments for fear of infection — a concern critics say was fueled in part by the government’s decision not to reveal the names and locations of the five hospitals where cases have been discovered. Stores have reported a surge in sales of hand-sanitizing products, which the government recommended as a precaution against the virus. The Defense Ministry has urged men to defer their army reserve training if they suspect MERS symptoms.

As officials have traced the path of the virus in the country, they have found evidence of careless infection control in its public health system. The first “index” patient, a 68-year-old employee of an agricultural products company, returned home on May 4 via Qatar after visiting Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia during the previous two weeks.

He developed a fever and cough, both symptoms of MERS, on May 11 and sought care at three clinics. But doctors did not suspect MERS because he did not tell them about his Middle East trip. A doctor and a nurse from those clinics later tested positive for the virus.


Staff members disinfecting students’ hands Wednesday at an elementary school in Seoul. Credit Jung Yeon-Je/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
It was not until May 18 that a doctor at a larger hospital asked the government authorities to test the man for the virus. Two days later, he was declared the country’s first MERS case. Twenty-four other cases have since been traced to that hospital.

One of them, a 44-year-old man who visited his father there, flew to China on May 26 via Hong Kong, although he had been advised by doctors to stay home. The penalty for ignoring such advice is a fine of up to 3 million won, or $2,700. He tested positive in China and was quarantined there last week.

Another patient, a 58-year-old woman, was infected through contact with the first patient but was released after treatment for asthma. The health authorities did not trace her to another hospital until Sunday. She died of MERS on Monday.

“We apologize for the inappropriate initial responses,” Moon Hyung-pyo, the minister of health and welfare, said during a news conference on Tuesday. “We were too relaxed.”

In yet another case, a 40-year-old man who stayed in the same hospital ward as the first patient to get treatment for pneumonia was released after his condition appeared to have improved. Officials traced him to another hospital on Sunday. The next day, two patients who shared a room with him there tested positive. They were the first tertiary, or third-generation, infections reported. Until then, the government had said that such third-generation cases were unlikely.

Government health officials said they had decided not to reveal the names of affected hospitals to prevent a panic surrounding them, a policy even some lawmakers from the governing Saenuri Party have criticized.

On Wednesday, the government offered cash payments to poor people who could not work while they were under government quarantine. The subsidies were announced amid concern that impoverished workers might be reluctant to report contacts with MERS patients for fear of losing their jobs.

The Education Ministry said it was advising schools to consider temporarily closing if they feared a mass infection among students. But during a news briefing on Wednesday, Kwon Jun-wook, a senior Health Ministry official, called the closing of schools “medically wrong.” Kim Woo-joo, head of the Korean Society of Infectious Diseases, also opposed the closing of schools, calling it too drastic a precaution.

MERS is caused by a coronavirus from the same family as the one that caused the deadly outbreak in China in 2003 of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. There is no vaccine. Health officials have said that evidence is mounting that dromedary camels could transmit the virus to humans through close contact.

Correction: June 3, 2015
An earlier version of this article misstated the year of the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in China. It was in 2003, not 2013.

Rick Gladstone contributed reporting from New York.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/04/world ... .html?_r=1

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