World

S. Korea reports first two deaths from Mers; around 750 quarantined

Two people in South Korea have died from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers), the first deaths in the country from the virus.

A 58-year-old woman, who had contact with South Korea’s first patient, died of acute respiratory failure on Monday (June 1), the Health Ministry said.

A 71-year-old man, who was confirmed to have the virus several days ago, died on Tuesday (June 2).

The virus has affected a total of 25 people in South Korea in two weeks.

The country now has the third highest number of cases after Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

The Mers virus has no known cure or vaccine.

Mers case in China

Previously, the only other fatal Mers case in Asia was a man who died in Malaysia in April 2014.

The first case in South Korea was of a 68-year-old man who had returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia. He was diagnosed on May 20.

Around 750 people who were exposed directly or indirectly to the virus have now been placed under mandatory or voluntary quarantine.

South Korean authorities have been criticised for allowing an infected man to travel to China last week despite warnings from doctors.

The 44-year-old left on a business trip on May 26, a day after his father was diagnosed with the virus. Three days later, he was confirmed to have been infected himself.

He is now on a respirator at a hospital in the province of Guangdong.

Mers is considered a deadlier cousin of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars), which appeared in 2003 and killed more than 800 around the world.

Sources: AFP, Reuters

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