The World Health Organization on MERS in Korea

42001174340_6b19aa20d2_bThe World Health Organization (WHO) is willing to support efforts to contain the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus in Korea, the UN organization said Sunday.
The statement comes after a Korean man, 61, was diagnosed with the disease on Saturday ― the first MERS case in the country in three years. Since then, he has been treated in an isolated ward at Seoul National University Hospital.

“WHO is in discussions with the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) on the required response and is ready to provide further support if required,” the WHO said in a statement.

“While this case is unusual, it is not unexpected that MERS will occasionally appear outside of the Middle East. The risk of spread can be minimized by the implementation of rapid response measures, including adequate infection prevention and control measures in health care facilities, contact tracing and public communication.”

According to the KCDC, the patient had traveled to Kuwait on business between Aug. 16 and Sept. 6, before returning to Korea on Sept. 7.

MERS is caused by a novel coronavirus (MERS?CoV) that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Typical MERS symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Pneumonia is common, but not always present. In around a third of cases, the disease is fatal.

MERS is something of a medical mystery. The disease is widely found in dromedary camels. But most MERS patients have no contact with the animals. Also, questions remain about where and how the camels get the virus in the first place.

“The virus does not seem to pass easily from person to person unless there is close contact, such as between a patient and someone providing care,” the WHO said. “The implementation of infection prevention and control measures are therefore critical to the prevention of MERS?CoV in health?care facilities.”

“WHO does not recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions or entry screening related to MERS-CoV.”

By Jung Min-ho

(Korea Times)

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