Korean health ministry reports first deaths from MERS
Two people in Korea have died from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the first deaths stemming from the country’s first case, a man who returned to the country after visiting the Middle East last month, the Health and Welfare Ministry said Tuesday.
Six more infected people have been confirmed, the ministry added, bringing the figure to 25.
A ministry official said the first victim was a woman, 58, who was found to have the virus after she died. She had close contact around May 15-17 with the first patient before her condition worsened and she died.
The second victim was a 71-year-old man whom health authorities say was the sixth MERS patient. He entered the hospital May 15 and came in close contact with the first patient between that day and May 17.
Ministry officials advised against the spread of groundless fear, saying both patients had serious medical conditions before they were exposed to MERS, though the disease might have made them worse.
But stronger public calls for action prompted health authorities to isolate 682 people who had come in close contact with any MERS patients at either their homes or state facilities.
By D.Peter Kim