South Korea’s Ministry of Health on Thursday confirmed the diagnoses of 14 more patients as a result of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), taking the total to 122.
Among the newly diagnosed, was a pregnant woman who allegedly contracted the virus whilst in an emergency room of the Seoul hospital, where most of the infected are linked. Emergency officials said she was in a stable condition.
On Wednesday, the ministry reported two deaths, bringing the total deceased to nine. All of the deceased were suffering from several side effects before they tested positive for MERS.
Symptoms of MERS vary from fever, cough, diarrhea and loss of breath. The virus generally develops in less than two weeks. MERS spreads when in close contact with a carrier of the virus either from a human or animal. In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, where the virus was first diagnosed in 2012, the cause was linked with human contact with infected camels.
The disease is believed to have spread from an individual travelling from the Middle East to South Korea, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The 68-year-old man arrived in a Seoul hospital for treatment but was not isolated immediately because MERS was not suspected by Medical doctors, according to the WHO.
South Korea is home to the second largest number of patients infected by the virus, trailing Saudi Arabia, according to reports from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
School boards recommended schools to be shut, fearing the virus could spread rapidly in such an environment.
Schools were opened on Wednesday following a recommendation from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The WHO studied the association of MERS with South Korean schools and concluded "Schools have not been linked to transmission of [the virus] in the Republic of Korea or elsewhere," a WHO report said.
All public transport is being disinfected regularly to prevent the virus from spreading swiftly, with the Seoul subway carrying 4,600,000 people daily.
Airplanes, taxis and subways in South Korea are being disinfected to prevent the spread of MERS and protect passengers from transmission, as people avoided public transport in response to the outbreak of MERS.
A number of countries have provisioned travel to South Korea with Hong Kong issuing a travel warning “red alert” on Tuesday against nonessential travel to South Korea.
The Chinese territory of Macau made compulsory for people entering local healthcare facilities to wear masks as a safeguard against MERS, and also released a travel advisory announcement, urging people to not travel to South Korea unless it is absolutely necessary.
Singaporean authorities have started examining the body temperature of passengers arriving from South Korea.