South Korea MERS Infection Virus Number Rises to 18

luvsmiling, June 1, 2015, 9:39 a.m.

The number of cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is growing rapidly in Korea, rising to 18 over the weekend and more feared. All new patients were in the same hospital ward as the man who became the first confirmed case of MERS in Korea, or family members who had been taking care of MERS patients. 

Fifteen out of the 17 were infected in a hospital in Gyeonggi Province where the first patient was being treated, leading to worries that health officials focused only on tracking down those who came into direct contact with him, like his family or medical staff, while overlooking the possibility of wider transmission.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare is monitoring all doctors, patients, family members and visitors to the hospital in Gyeonggi Province. Health officials said the prime objective is to stem tertiary infections. Considering the two-week latency period of the MERS virus, early June is a crucial period in showing whether the spread has been contained. 

If there are no additional cases of MERS, there is a strong chance that no tertiary infections have occurred.  Minister of Health and Welfare Moon Hyung-pyo apologized on Sunday for causing "fear and concern" for failing to contain the disease sooner.


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