The number of people infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in South Korea has increased to seven, with two new cases being confirmed by South Korean health officials on Thursday.
The two latest cases were in close contact with the first infected person who was diagnosed after a business trip in Bahrain. His wife was the second confirmed case, who fell sick as she was taking care of him in the hospital.
The third reported case was a 76 year old man who was the sharing same room with the original patient. This man’s daughter also contracted the disease while she was visiting her father and became the fourth infectee.
The fifth confirmed case was the original patient’s doctor who became infected as he was examining him in the hospital.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that the latest victims are a 71 year old man who was the roommate of the first case and his nurse, aged 28.
No vaccine or cure has yet been found with which to treat or prevent the deadly disease, which has a fatality rate of 40.7 percent according to experts.
"The 40 percent death rate is quite high," Choi Jun-yong, an associate professor at the infectious diseases division of Severance Hospital told Reuters by telephone.
A suspected MERS infectee - a 44 year old man who is the son of the third case and the brother of the fourth patient - has refused to stay in a quarantine room and left for a business trip, said Yang Byung-guk, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.
Sixty four people, including relatives and health workers of the three patients have been isolated by the authorities on the grounds that they were in close communication with the patients, according to Yang Byung-guk.
The ministry announced on Wednesday that there is no chance of the disease spreading to the wider population, emphasising the isolation of the people who might have contact with the three patients.
There were 1,142 MERS cases reported worldwide, with 465 deaths being recorded from 23 countries, between April 2012 and May 2015. Most of these cases, 1,117 of them, occurred in the according to South Korea's health ministry.