Seoul, South Korea – South Korea reported three more deaths from the MERS virus Thursday, bringing the number of fatalities to 23 and amplifying fears that authorities do not have the outbreak under control after the WHO criticised their response.
Three more cases of the virus were also confirmed Thursday, despite authorities saying earlier in the week that South Korea had weathered the worst of the crisis.
The number of infections now stands at 165, in what is the largest outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome outside Saudi Arabia.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday the South Korean outbreak was a “wake-up call” and that a lack of awareness about the virus among health workers and the public was a major contributing factor to its rapid spread.[pq]MERS patients had been kept in crowded emergency rooms for long periods, it said, and the practice of doctor shopping[/pq] — visiting multiple hospitals for second and third opinions — was also a contributing factor.
The custom of many visitors and family members staying with infected patients in their hospital rooms also facilitated the spread of the virus, the WHO’s emergency committee meeting in Geneva found.
– Park Chan-Kyong, AFP News