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S. Korea announces end to MERS outbreak

2018/10/16 00:01

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SEOUL, Oct. 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Tuesday officially declared an end to the country's first Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak in three years, health authorities here said.

The announcement made at midnight is in line with guidelines set by the World Health Organization that requires no new infections for a minimum of 28 days, which is twice the length of the virus' incubation period, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.

On Sept. 8, a single person was diagnosed with MERS after returning home from a three-week business trip to Kuwait via the United Arab Emirates. It was the first confirmed case of the disease in the country since 2015.

On Sept. 21, the KCDC lowered its alert level to its lowest readiness posture, as 21 people who came into close contact with the patient all tested negative for the disease.

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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