MERS South Korea records first 2 deaths from disease

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control reports that South Korea now has the 3rd highest number of cases after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

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play (Reuters)
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The first two deaths from an outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus which has infected 25 people in 2 weeks has been recorded in South Korea.

South Korean health ministry said a 57-year-old woman, who had contact with South Korea's first patient, died of acute respiratory failure on Monday at a hospital in Gyeonggi and 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 7 new cases today, Tuesday, including the woman who died, bringing the total number of cases to 25, while over 700 people have been isolated in the country for possible MERS infection.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control reports that South Korea now has the 3rd highest number of cases after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The World Health Organization (WHO) puts the total number of cases globally at 1,161, with at least 436 related deaths and also said no mutation had been detected in the virus in South Korea, neither did it appear to be spreading easily.

Meanwhile, officials have come under criticism from many in South Korea for not naming the hospitals where people have been treated, which has fueled widespread speculation.

MERS which was first identified in humans in 2012 has no cure and vaccine and has a 38% death rate, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

According to Reuters, a South Korean doctor has said  older patients and those with existing respiratory and renal ailments at greater risk of catching the virus.

The WHO has so far not recommended trade or travel restrictions for South Korea, but South Korean border control authorities have put a ban on overseas travel for people isolated for possible infection.

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