MERS Virus Spreading Despite Quarantine Efforts

D-Bo , June 15, 2015, 8:34 a.m.

The number of patients with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome continues to rise, with 24 cases newly confirmed over the weekend, bringing the total to 150.  Many newly confirmed cases were the result of ignoring quarantine rules. An ambulance driver for Samsung Medical Center in Seoul, who was supposed to be closely monitored after contact with a confirmed MERS patient, moved freely around the hospital for several days before being diagnosed. 

Another driver of a private ambulance was also infected after coming in contact with a MERS patient without protection.  And a staffer with an IT firm in Busan visited several hospitals and pharmacies before he was tested for MERS, because he did not tell doctors he had been seconded to Daechung Hospital, a source of MERS in Daejeon. That man alone is believed to have been in contact with over 900 people who may in turn have spread the disease.

Health authorities are urging people to avoid hospitals and inform them if they have a fever so they can be transferred to a designated hospital. Patients should give doctors as much detail as possible, including on where they have been. 

Cheong Hee-jin of Korea University Guro Hospital in Seoul said, "The MERS virus is not airborne, and people get infected by contact with body fluids like blood, sweat, and saliva. Make sure you wash hands frequently, and wear a mask if you feel you are having a coughing fit."

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