MERS Officials Express Hope of Containment of Virus

D-Bo , June 11, 2015, 9:02 a.m.

The prospect of winning the battle against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome has come down to whether health officials can succeed in containing the spread of the deadly disease.

The number of confirmed MERS cases traced to St. Mary's Hospital in Pyeongtaek has peaked at nearly 40, and infections at Samsung Medical Center in southern Seoul rose to over 50 but the pace has slowed slightly. This has raised cautious optimism among health officials that the outbreak can be contained.

Oh Myeong-don at Seoul National University said the next week will be crucial in determining whether the battle against MERS has been won and no additional MERS hot spot is found.

Given a 12-day latency period, it will be possible around Wednesday to determine if people who came into contact with confirmed cases of the virus in hospitals between May 27-29 were infected or not.

The government is belatedly setting up a system to stem the spread of MERS. It is gearing up to publish a list of hospitals that can treat confirmed and suspicious MERS cases, and a database now allow hospitals to check in real time the list of people who have come into contact with a MERS patient or who have been quarantined at home.

Quarantine officials point out that excessive fear and blind optimism are both inappropriate and advised the public to remain calm while abiding by recommended hygiene practices. 

Jun Byung-yool at Yonsei University said, "We must face that fact that MERS infections will not disappear suddenly but will fluctuate, and learn to deal with the crisis calmly."

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed MERS cases rose to 122, while the death toll climbed to nine.

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