MERS-CoV [to 27 June 2015]
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Republic of Korea
Disease outbreak news
23 June 2015
Situation in Korea
Between 20 and 23 June 2015, the National IHR Focal Point of the Republic of Korea notified WHO of 9 additional confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) alongside 3 additional deaths.
Additional information on the outbreak in Korea
To date, a total of 175 MERS-CoV cases, including 27 deaths, have been reported. One of the 175 cases is the case that was confirmed in China and also notified by the National IHR Focal Point of China.
The median age of the cases is 56 years old (ranging from 16 to 87 years old). The majority of cases are men (60%). Twenty-three cases (13%) are health care professionals. To date, all cases (excluding the index case) have been linked to a single chain of transmission and are associated with health care facilities.
Detailed information concerning MERS-CoV cases in the Republic of Korea can be found in a separate document (see related links).
Public health response
The government of the Republic of Korea continues to implement intense case and contact management activities. As of 23 June, 2,805 contacts are being monitored while a total of 10,718 contacts have been released. The downward trend of reported MERS-CoV cases seems to indicate that the containment measures put in place by the national health authorities of Korea are beginning to work.
Globally, since September 2012, WHO has been notified of 1,348 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including at least 479 related deaths.
Based on the current situation and available information, WHO encourages all Member States to continue their surveillance for acute respiratory infections and to carefully review any unusual patterns.
Infection prevention and control measures are critical to prevent the possible spread of MERS-CoV in health care facilities. It is not always possible to identify patients with MERS-CoV early because, like other respiratory infections, the early symptoms of MERS-CoV are non-specific. Therefore, health-care workers should always apply standard precautions consistently with all patients, regardless of their diagnosis. Droplet precautions should be added to the standard precautions when providing care to patients with symptoms of acute respiratory infection; contact precautions and eye protection should be added when caring for probable or confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection; airborne precautions should be applied when performing aerosol generating procedures.
Until more is understood about MERS-CoV, people with diabetes, renal failure, chronic lung disease, and immunocompromised persons are considered to be at high risk of severe disease from MERS‐CoV infection. General hygiene measures, such as regular hand washing, should be adhered to.
WHO remains vigilant and is monitoring the situation. Given the lack of evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission in the community, WHO does not recommend travel or trade restrictions with regard to this event. Raising awareness about MERS-CoV among travellers to and from affected countries is good public health practice.
:: Summary of MERS statistics in the Republic of Korea (translated from the www.mers.go.kr website) as of 27 June 2015
Global Alert and Response (GAR) – Disease Outbreak News (DONs)
:: 26 June 2015 – Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – United Arab Emirates
:: 23 June 2015 – Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Republic of Korea
:: 23 June 2015 – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Saudi Arabia
After MERS, South Korea Authorizes Prison for Quarantine Scofflaws
By CHOE SANG-HUN
New York Times, JUNE 26, 2015
SEOUL, South Korea — Stung by the outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome, South Korea has passed a law authorizing prison terms of up to two years for people who defy quarantine orders or lie about their possible exposure to an infectious disease.
South Korea has had 181 confirmed cases of the disease known as MERS, including 31 deaths. The outbreak, which began last month, is the worst seen outside Saudi Arabia, where the disease was first identified.
The spread of MERS here has been attributed mainly to poor infection control at the country’s hospitals, as well as failures of communication and coordination on the government’s part. But the public has also been angered by reports of people flouting orders to stay home while they were being monitored for symptoms. One such person went golfing; another went to China, where he was detained and later tested positive for MERS. Under current law, such defiance can result in a fine but not imprisonment.
The new law, which was passed on Thursday and takes effect in six months, gives more authority to public health investigators, empowering them to close down the site of a possible outbreak of infectious disease and to place people there under quarantine. People who defy the orders can be sentenced to up to two years in prison or fined up to 20 million won, or about $18,000. The same penalties can be imposed for lying about one’s possible exposure to infectious disease…
ASEAN Ascertains Region’s Information Network in Response to MERS
JAKARTA, 22 June 2015 – “ASEAN is concerned about the widening spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS),” said H.E. Le Luong Minh, Secretary-General of ASEAN. “ASEAN is taking initiatives on preparedness in responding to the MERS coronavirus (MERS CoV) disease,” he added.
Today, a video conference took place among health experts in ASEAN together with their counterparts from the World Health Organisation and from China and Japan in response to this health concern. The conference was held to help ascertain the region’s information network and share information and experience on the current situation and what is being done in ASEAN and other countries towards MERS. In this video conference, it was re-affirmed that sharing of lessons learned or sharing of important and updated information in preparedness and response to MERS is very useful to the internal preparations and response plans of the respective countries in the region…