S.Korea reports first MERS deaths

A 58-year-old woman and a 71-year-old man died of acute respiratory failure on Monday

S.Korea reports first MERS deaths

World Bulletin / News Desk 

South Korea on Tuesday reported its first two deaths from an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) that has infected 25 people in two weeks, as public alarm grew and officials scrambled to contain the outbreak.

South Korea has isolated more than 700 people for possible MERS infection, which is caused by a coronavirus from the same family as the one that triggered the deadly 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), but MERS has a much higher death rate than SARS and there is no cure or vaccine.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) puts the total number of cases globally at 1,154, with at least 434 related deaths.

A 58-year-old woman, who had contact with South Korea's first patient, died of acute respiratory failure on Monday, the Health Ministry said. A 71-year-old man who had been on respiratory support with a history of kidney ailments also died.

South Korea's health ministry reported seven new cases on Tuesday, including the woman who died, bringing the total number of cases to 25. South Korea now has the third highest number of cases after Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Deputy Prime Minister Choi Kyung-hwan said the government's credibility was at stake after criticism against authorities for failing to contain the virus after the first patient's symptoms were initially overlooked.

"We will bring together all our health-related capabilities now and work to dissolve anxiety and concerns quickly," he said.

The death rate from MERS, first identified in humans in 2012, has been 38 percent, according to WHO figures, with older patients and those with existing respiratory and renal ailments at greater risk, according to a South Korean doctor.

By comparison, the death rate from SARS was 9 to 12 percent, rising above 50 percent for patients over 65, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Haziran 2015, 10:07