MERS attacks: S. Korea to keep tabs on cellphones to stop killer virus spreading

Sunday, June 7, 2015
By Paul Martin
June 07, 2015

After a fifth person died of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in South Korea authorities warned they will be tracking the cell phone signals of hundreds of people under quarantine to halt the spread of the disease.

Acting Prime Minister Choi Kyung-hwan said the government will step up its monitoring of undiagnosed patients, currently quarantined at home, for fear they might have contracted the deadly virus too. It includes tracking their whereabouts through cell phone signals.

“Please understand this is an unavoidable measure for the sake of our neighbors and families,” Deputy Prime Minister Choi Kyung-hwan told a news briefing in the central city of Sejong, Reuters reports.

Over 2,300 people are currently under quarantine, either in health care facilities or at their homes, including an entire village of 105 people in the southwest after a resident who visited a hospital where the country’s first patient with MERS was treated turned out to be infected.

Health experts say the virus, which has no vaccine, spreads through close contact with infected people, and not through the air. MERS, a respiratory disease that can lead to kidney failure and pneumonia, was first was first identified in 2012 in Saudi Arabia. Up to four out of every 10 MERS sufferers have died. Severe damage is caused to those with weakened immune systems – the elderly and those with chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

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