MERS subsides with no new cases in two weeks

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MERS subsides with no new cases in two weeks

Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), which claimed 36 lives over the past two months and sickened 186, seems to have been contained with no new patients reported for two weeks.

The maximum latency period of the disease is considered two weeks, although some patients in Korea exhibited symptoms more than two weeks after coming into contact with other patients.

As of Sunday, with Patient No. 119, a 35-year-old policeman in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi, discharged from hospital, a total of 136 patients have left hospital after recovering. Fourteen patients are still being treated for MERS and three are known to be in critical condition. No deaths were reported for the past eight days.

The policeman was earlier in critical condition and supported by extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, which is used in case the patient’s heart or lungs fail. But he was injected with plasma from another fully recovered patient and declared fully recovered from MERS on July 8. For the next 11 days, he received rehabilitation therapy at the hospital. The number of people under quarantine at medical facilities or at home, which hit a high of 6,700 in June, came down to 68. Quarantine measures in hospitals are being wound down as well.

Samsung Medical Center, the second ground zero for the outbreak where 91 people were infected, is ending a 40-day partial lockdown as of Monday. It is the last hospital under the health authority’s quarantine regimen.

The hospital partially closed its facilities on June 10 when an emergency room aide got ill, but people continued to fall ill after getting infected at the hospital. The last reported patient in Korea, Patient No. 186, was confirmed for the disease at Samsung on July 5.

Full operations, however, aren’t expected to resume until August since some of the medical staff are still under quarantine and the hospital needs to go through the Seoul government’s administrative procedures.

BY KIM BONG-MOON [kim.bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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