Mers outbreak prompts South Korea’s Park to delay US visit

The announcement from her office came as South Korea confirmed two more deaths and 13 more infections.

This brings the death toll to nine, with 108 infected with the virus.

The outbreak is the biggest outside the Middle East where Mers, which has no known cure, was first detected.

It began spreading in South Korea last month when one of its citizens became infected during a business trip to Saudi Arabia and brought it home.

Authorities have been criticised for their handling the outbreak, with some saying they did not do enough to stop the spread of the virus, which has caused some public alarm.

Mers is caused by a new type of coronavirus, a type of virus which includes the common cold and Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome).

First cases emerged in the Middle East in 2012, and the first death in Saudi Arabia in June that year.

Patients have a fever, cough and breathing difficulties, but Mers can also cause pneumonia and kidney failure.

Approximately 36% of reported patients with Mers have died – there is no vaccine or specific treatment.

Yonhap news agency reported that 3,439 people who may have come into contact with the virus have now been put in isolation, a sharp jump from Monday’s figure of 2,500.

Nearly 2,500 schools and universities, mostly in Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province, have been closed.

‘Quick end’

A spokesman for Ms Park’s office told reporters on Wednesday that she postponed the trip so that she could “take care of public safety, including putting a quick end to the MERS”. He added that the trip would be rescheduled for “the earliest mutually convenient time”.

Ms Park was originally meant to leave for Washington on Saturday, reported Yonhap.

She was supposed to have met with US President Barack Obama on 16 June to discuss security and economic issues, including North Korea, according to anearlier statement from the White House.

The virus has also spread to China, which has one confirmed infection.

On Wednesday, Chinese state news agency Xinhua said the man was in stable condition, and 75 people who have been in quarantine have tested negative for Mers.




 




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