WHO chief expresses optimism over MERS outbreak in S Korea

Margaret Chan, chief of WHO voices her optimism regarding MERS outbreak in South Korea, expressing it ‘on a very good footing’

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

South Korea’s alarming Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS) outbreak took its toll on 23 lives, with an initial slow response, but could be stopped, according to Margaret Chan, chief of the World Health Organization (WHO). The first case of MERS in the country was diagnosed on May 20.

Chan offered a rather positive statement on Wednesday, saying that “The MERS outbreak will be brought under control... although it may take a little longer than everyone would like to see” and added that the South Korean government is now “on a very good footing.”

Margaret Chan praised the South Korean government and health care workers’ efforts to contain the outbreak, and added that there is a somewhat low risk to the public at the moment, a month after the virus was first diagnosed.

South Korean experts have criticised the president and his government’s response to the outbreak, and the WHO said there is a lack of awareness about the virus in the health sector, which undoubtedly contributed to its spread.

Chan also said scientists have not detected any genetic change in the virus, which is good news.

South Korean medical experts say the MERS crisis would last till next month. The health ministry anticipated that the virus would end before July.

Currently, more than 6,700 people are being held in quarantine in efforts to slow down the spread of the virus.

MERS is a viral respiratory illness, discovered and diagnosed for the first time in Saudi Arabia, in 2012. The source of the virus is thought to have originated from an animal, but still remains unknown. Approximately 36 percent of reported MERS patients have died.

TRTWorld and agencies