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Korean schools reopen as MERS cases reach 150 Print E-mail
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อังคาร, 16 มิถุนายน 2015

Source: http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/

Lisa Schnirring | Staff Writer | CIDRAP News | Jun 15, 2015


Most of the schools shuttered in the wake of South Korea's MERS-CoV outbreak reopened today, as the country reported 12 more infections, lifting the total in the hospital-linked event to 150 cases.

So far no MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) illnesses have been reported outside of healthcare settings and no cases have been detected in school children, but officials closed nearly 3,000 of them as a precaution.

A World Health Organization (WHO) emergency committee on MERS-CoV meets tomorrow for the ninth time since the emerged in 2012. Its experts will assess if the latest developments warrant a public health emergency and determine if further steps are needed to curb the global spread of the disease.

Schools reopen

Reopening schools was one of the first recommendations made by a recent outbreak investigation mission by WHO experts and South Korean health officials. The team concluded its work on Jun 13 with a release of a report that said that infection control gaps had helped fuel the large and complex outbreak.

About 440 schools remained closed, a steep decline in the 2,900 that were still closed last week, Reuters reported today. Students at a kindergarten in Suwon, a city south of Seoul, were met at the school gates by teachers who took the children's temperatures.

The reopening of schools came amid a plea from South Korean President Park Geun-hye for people and the business community to return to normal activities.

New cases, deaths

Officials reported 7 new MERS cases yesterday and 5 today, as well as 2 new deaths. One of the 5 new cases today involves a nurse who got sick after performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on a MERS-CoV patient at Konyang University Hospital, the Korea Herald reported.

The latest fatality was report in a 58-year-old hospital patient who had diabetes, though health officials said they aren't sure what role MERS-CoV played in death, Yonhap News reported today.

The newest cases come on top of 7 cases and 1 death reported yesterday, according to a separate Yonhap News story. South Korea's health ministry said 4 of the patients were exposed to MERS-CoV while visiting or receiving care at Samsung Medical Center in Seoul. The infections boost the overall outbreak total to 150.

The death reported yesterday was in a 61-year-old man from Busan who is thought to have been infected after he visited a relative at Samsung Medical Center who was in a ward with a MERS patient, according to the report.

Most of the deaths have occurred in people with underlying medical conditions, and the two latest fatalities raise the outbreak's number of deaths to 16. The man's only health issue, however, was weak liver function, Yonhap reported.

Other outbreak developments

Seoul's government has sent an inspection team to Samsung Medical Center to supervise and monitor quarantine measures, the Herald reported. The facility is one of the outbreak's top hot spots, and many of the illnesses linked to the hospital involved exposure in its emergency department.

The hospital has imposed a partial closure, meaning it has stopped taking outpatients and has restricted visitors, according to the report, which added that the measures are in effect until Jun 24. Some patients will be transferred to other hospitals, but those with serious medical conditions such as cancer will stay at Samsung.

Currently about 5,200 contacts in South Korea are under monitoring, and about 2,500 have finished their monitoring period, according to media reports.

Fourteen MERS-CoV patients have recovered and been released from the hospital, and 17 are still hospitalized in "unstable" condition.

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