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Three More Die in South Korea's MERS Outbreak, Death Toll at 23

Three more cases were also identified, bringing the total to 165 in the largest outbreak outside of Saudi Arabia, the health ministry said.
Image: Struggles To Contain MERS Continue In South Korea
Disinfection workers wearing protective gears spray anti-septic solution in an internet cafe amid rising public concerns over the spread of MERS virus on June 16, 2015, in Seoul, South Korea. Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images

SEOUL — South Korea's health ministry reported on Thursday three more deaths in the country's Middle East Respiratory Syndrome outbreak, bringing the total number of fatalities to 23.

The ministry also confirmed three new cases, taking the total to 165 in the outbreak that is the largest outside Saudi Arabia.

Related: 'Doctor Shopping' Helped Spread MERS, WHO Says

Thousands of Koreans have been put under quarantine, including those inside two hospitals that are under a two-week lockdown — meaning no one can enter or leave.

In addition to the two hospitals under lockdown, another has been completely shut and the prestigious Samsung Medical Center in Seoul, where the most infections have occurred, has stopped taking new patients.

Related: CDC Reminds U.S. Doctors to Watch Out for MERS

About 6,500 people are in quarantine, some in hospitals but most at home, including an entire village of 105 people.

MERS kills about 38 percent of those it infects and is caused by a coronavirus from the same family as the one that triggered China's deadly 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, also known as SARS.