Ministry reports new MERS case

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Ministry reports new MERS case

The Ministry of Health and Welfare on Friday announced an additional case of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), raising the total number of confirmed cases to 184.

The death toll, however, remained unchanged at 33 for the third consecutive day, a likely indicator that the outbreak is finally waning.

Following a full recovery, seven more MERS patients were discharged from the hospital on Friday. Of the 42 people currently hospitalized, 12 are in critical condition.

So far, 109 have successfully recovered and left the hospital, while the fatality rate in Korea stands at 18 percent.

The latest MERS patient announced Friday is reportedly a 24-year-old female nurse at Samsung Medical Center in Seoul’s affluent Gangnam District. Health officials said they are currently conducting an epidemiological investigation on her.

The woman’s experience treating other MERS patients in the hospital’s intensive care unit from June 16 to 24 was presumed to be the main route of infection. Officials said they are referencing CCTV footage and analyzing the protective gear and clothing she wore to find an exact cause.

Run by Korea’s top conglomerate and formerly regarded as the best hospital in the country, Samsung Medical Center partially shut down indefinitely after it was revealed that the establishment was a mass transmission site in the MERS outbreak here.

More than 80 infections were traced back to the hospital, most of which were connected to Patient No. 14, who rapidly spread the virus over three days at the emergency ward.

Doctors said the 35-year-old, who recently left the hospital, has since donated blood plasma to help treat other patients and said he would “willingly give up [his] plasma any time.”

It was also reported that he shared free pizza on Friday with those at the hospital.

Since the country’s first MERS patient tested positive for the disease on May 20, more than 16,100 people nationwide have been quarantined at home or in local hospitals. After testing negative for the virus following the 14-day maximum incubation period, 14,062 have now been released.

On Friday, 241 people were released from isolation - 175 of whom were quarantined in their homes - while 171 people received quarantine orders.

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