South Korea has confirmed that more people have been diagnosed with the MERS virus. The number of confirmed cases is now 87. As of this writing, six people have died.
To avoid a massive outbreak, South Korea has closed almost 1,800 schools and isolated more than 2,000 people who have come into contact with the virus.
The names of the hospitals where MERS patients have been treated has been kept a secret from the Korean public until now. Officials released the names of the hospitals where MERS patients are in order to allow people to identify themselves if they were at any of this hospitals in the last couple of weeks. People who have been unknowingly exposed will need to be quarantined in order to stop the spread of this deadly virus.
Deputy Prime Minister Choi Kyung-hwan spoke at a news conference where he assured the public that the MERS virus would not become a pandemic.
“So far, all the MERS cases have been hospital-associated, and there has been no case of an infection in other social settings. We think we have a chance at putting the outbreak under total control.”
MERS was first discovered in humans in 2012. By 2013, the World Health Organization had put together a 22-page protocol for investigating MERS.
Symptoms of the virus include fever, breathing problems, pneumonia and kidney failure. The disease is spread through the exchange of bodily fluids.
If a patient with MERS is suspected, diagnosing will be done by a PCR test to identify the DNA of the virus or a serology test to see if a patient has antibodies for MERS.
The Center for Disease Control lists precautions that can be taken to protect yourself from contracting this virus.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid personal contact, such as kissing, or sharing cups or eating utensils, with sick people.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as doorknobs.
Do you think that South Korea is doing everything right in order to contain MERS? Will other countries start seeing this virus?
[Image via Ahn Young-joon]