The president of the Samsung Medical Center in North Korean capital Seoul has issued a public apology after it was identified as the source of almost half the cases of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the country.

Song Jae-hoon told reporters that the hospital would stop treating outpatients and admitting new patients to prevent further infections among patients and medical staff, adding that non-urgent surgery was being stopped.

Said Song,

"We apologise for causing great concern as Samsung Medical Center became the centre of the spread of MERS, this is entirely our responsibility and failing, as we did not properly manage emergency-room staff."

Authorities say 70 cases have been traced back to the hospital, including an emergency ward orderly who worked for days after developing symptoms and came into contact with more than 200 people.

According to BBC, it is believed the orderly picked up the virus from an infected person who waited for days in various parts of the emergency ward, potentially exposing the virus to an estimated 900 staff, patients and visitors.

15 people have now so far died from the deadly MERS virus, while 7 new cases were reported yesterday, Sunday  bringing the total to 145.