Sixth Person Dies of MERS Virus in South Korea

by The Associated Press /

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

South Korea on Monday reported its sixth death from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome as authorities were bolstering measures to stem the spread of the virus that has left dozens of people infected.

A total of 87 people in South Korea have been infected by MERS since last month in the largest outbreak outside the Middle East.

About 1,870 schools have closed and more than 2,000 people are isolated at their homes or state-run facilities after having contact with patients infected with the virus.

An 80-year-old man, who tested positive for the virus last week while being treated for pneumonia, died Monday and became the country's sixth death linked to MERS, according to a statement from the Health Ministry.

Departing from its earlier policy, the government on Sunday disclosed the names of the 24 hospitals where the MERS patients have been diagnosed or had been treated before their condition was confirmed. This will allow people who have visited those facilities in recent weeks to report themselves if they are showing symptoms similar to MERS-related illnesses, officials said.

Related: What is MERS? And Other Questions About the Outbreak

The government had earlier refused to reveal the names of those hospitals saying it would cause a disruption in services if people started avoiding them.

The disclosure came two days after the government first identified one hospital at the heart of the virus's outbreak in South Korea.

Deputy Prime Minister Choi Kyung-hwan told a news conference Sunday that there was no reason to believe that the virus would significantly spread further in the country. "So far, all the MERS cases have been hospital-associated, and there has been no case of an infection in other social settings. We think we have a chance at putting the outbreak under total control," Choi said.

Related: How One Patient Makes a Difference in MERS

The virus has no vaccine, and health experts say it spreads through close contact with infected people and not through the air. The U.N. health agency has reported that there's no evidence yet in South Korea of "sustained transmission in the community."

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
MORE FROM news