Middle East Respiratory Syndrome claims 16th victim, infects 150 since South Korean outbreak began May 20
By Alex Jensen
SEOUL – South Korea’s health ministry warned Monday that the number of people under isolation orders could almost double to nearly 10,000, after the country’s MERS outbreak widened further.
An additional fatality and five more infections were confirmed by a morning announcement, bringing the local death toll to 16 and overall case count to the 150 mark.
The latest victim was a 58-year-old diabetic, but no other information was provided — 17 others were said to be in an unstable condition.
MERS has prompted global concerns since the flu-like illness was first discovered three years ago in Saudi Arabia, where the fatality rate among more than 1,000 cases has exceeded 40 percent.
Meanwhile, Seoul’s prime minister’s office released a statement announcing that it would send an investigative team to Samsung Medical Center, which partially closed over the weekend.
Around half of South Korea’s infections so far have emerged from the prestigious facility in the Gangnam area of Seoul.
The iconic Korean Samsung brand was also under scrutiny as the group’s tech division, Samsung Electronics, revealed that it was dealing with the infection of one of its staff members.
All but two of the country’s cases are believed to have involved transmissions within medical facilities since the viral outbreak began when an infected man returned from a trip to the Middle East last month.
The two exceptions so far have been an ambulance driver and a rescue worker.
But a South Korean subcontractor in Slovakia was confirmed earlier to have tested negative for MERS.