South Korea Reports 150 MERS Cases, 16 Deaths; WHO Calls Emergency Meeting On Outbreak

Agence France-Presse: ‘Excessive’ public alarm as S. Korea reports 16th MERS death
“South Korea Monday reported its 16th death in an expanding MERS outbreak, as President Park Geun-hye called for efforts to shore up the economy against what she called ‘excessive’ public alarm. Seoul also declared five new patients — bringing the total number of cases including the deaths to 150 — as fears grew over the impact of the outbreak on Asia’s fourth-largest economy…” (Ha-Won, 6/15).

New York Times: Experts Fault South Korean Response to MERS Outbreak
“The South Korean government’s failure to share information quickly with the public and establish an efficient disease control system contributed to worsening the outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome in the country, a joint panel of experts from the World Health Organization and South Korea said Saturday…” (Sang-Hun, 6/13).

New York Times: MERS Tarnishes Korean President’s Image as Leader
“…With [South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s] approval rating plunging [during the MERS outbreak], critics and political analysts alike are questioning her leadership as the country faces pressing issues like a slowing economy, a national pension system awaiting an overhaul, and nuclear and missile threats from North Korea…” (Sang-Hun, 6/12).

NPR: Why MERS Will Likely Crop Up Outside The Middle East Again
“…Until scientists figure out exactly how camels pass MERS to people, [Mark Pallansch, director of viral diseases at the CDC,] says, more outbreaks will pop up. ‘As long as there is continual exposure to whatever animal source for MERS exists in the Arabian Peninsula, we will always continue to have sporadic cases,’ Pallansch says. And those cases could turn up anywhere on the globe…” (Beaubien, 6/14).

Reuters: WHO calls emergency meeting on ‘large, complex’ South Korea MERS outbreak
“The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday it would hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday to consider South Korea’s outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which it described as ‘large and complex.’ The U.N. health agency said more cases should be anticipated, but that the disease was confined to hospitals, with no sign it was spreading in the community…” (Kim, 6/13).

Reuters: Hospital at center of South Korea’s MERS suspends services; seven new cases
“…The Samsung Medical Center, a prominent hospital in the capital, said it was suspending all non-emergency surgery and would take no new patients to focus on stopping MERS after more than 70 cases were traced to it. Its tally has surpassed the number at a hospital in Pyeongtaek, where the first patient sought treatment…” (Kim, 6/14).

ScienceInsider: MERS outbreak in Korea may be past its peak, panel says
“…[A] joint mission of international and local health experts expressed cautious optimism that the country may be turning the corner on the outbreak, although its members emphasized the need for continued surveillance and attention to infection control…” (Normille, 6/13).

VOA News: MERS Forces Limited Operations at Seoul Hospital
“…Samsung Hospital President Song Jae-hoon told a televised news conference on Sunday that the hospital would suspend all non-emergency surgeries and not accept new patients. He said no visitors will be allowed, and added that he would decide on June 24 whether to continue the suspension…” (6/14).

WHO Western Pacific Region: WHO recommends continuation of strong disease control measures to bring MERS-CoV outbreak in Republic of Korea to an end
“A joint mission by the World Health Organization and the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare to review the outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the Republic of Korea has recommended that continuing strengthening of contact tracing, monitoring, and quarantine, as well as expanded laboratory testing, will prevent further spread of the virus…” (6/13).

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