Hospital at center of South Korea’s MERS suspends services; seven new cases

Sunday, June 14, 2015
By Paul Martin

BY JACK KIM
Reuters.com
Sun Jun 14, 2015

A South Korean hospital suspended most services on Sunday after being identified as the epicenter of the spread of a deadly respiratory disease that has killed 15 people since being diagnosed in the country nearly four weeks ago.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called an emergency meeting for Tuesday on South Korea’s “large and complex” outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the biggest outside Saudi Arabia, where it was first identified in humans in 2012.

MERS was diagnosed in South Korea on May 20 in a businessman who had returned from a trip to the Middle East and has spread through hospitals.

It has stirred fears of a repeat of a 2002-2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which began in China and killed about 800 people globally.

South Korea’s Ministry of Health reported seven new cases on Sunday, taking the total to 145, as a 15th person died, an official in Busan city said.

The people who died were all elderly or people with existing ailments.

The Samsung Medical Center, a prominent hospital in the capital, said it was suspending all non-emergency surgery and would take no new patients to focus on stopping MERS after more than 70 cases were traced to it.

Its tally has surpassed the number at a hospital in Pyeongtaek, where the first patient sought treatment.

Among the cases at the Samsung Medical Center was an emergency ward orderly who worked for days after developing symptoms, coming into contact with more than 200 people, the hospital said.

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