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People showing MERS-like symptoms will not be immediately quarantined

2018/09/11 10:51

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SEOUL, Sept. 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's health authorities said Tuesday that people showing symptoms of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) will not be immediately quarantined at a hospital but allowed to stay at their homes.

The revised rules drafted this year allow for people who may have contracted the potentially life-threatening sickness but are not suffering from breathing issues and are not showing signs of pneumonia to remain in their homes and be examined by trained personnel. The new operating protocol aims to prevent the early spread of MERS while alleviating unnecessary inconvenience for people, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said.

The ministry said that self-quarantine is adequate in preventing the illness' spread if people stay in rooms with natural ventilation and do not come into contact with outsiders.

The government, meanwhile, said it is keeping close tabs on 21 people who had close contact with a man who tested positive for MERS. On Saturday, the 61-year-old man was diagnosed with the disease after returning home from a visit to Kuwait.

MERS is a viral respiratory disease with a fatality rate of 20-46 percent. It is caused by a novel coronavirus carried by camels and can be spread when someone is in close contact with a patient for a sustained period.

The first MERS case was recorded in Saudi Arabia, and it has since spread to other countries. As of June this year, the World Health Organization has reported 2,229 laboratory-confirmed cases.

South Korea was hit by an outbreak in 2015 resulting in 38 deaths and 186 people testing positive for MERS.

khj@yna.co.kr

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