Originally published June 17 2015
South Korea quarantines 2,300-plus people, closes 1,800 schools as deadly MERS epidemic spreads
by Jonathan Benson, staff writer
(NaturalNews) The latest disease outbreak to ravage international headlines has resulted in the quarantine of some 2,300 people and counting, according to reports. South Korea, in an effort to stem the spread of MERS, also known as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, has decided to put some of its residents into isolation as well as shut down a number of schools in response to about 87 confirmed cases of the disease throughout the country.
More than 1,800 schools have already been shuttered, including 1,255 in the Gyeonggi province outside of Seoul. And more than 2,300 people suspected of coming into contact with MERS have been asked to put themselves into self-quarantine in order to contain the outbreak. Seoul's mayor is also considering other measures that would force people suspected of having the disease to stay at home until being given the green light to leave by local authorities.
"We will deal strongly with anyone who escalates [an] unnecessary sense of public uneasiness," stated Kang Shin-myun, Seoul's chief of police, who admitted to the media that he's ready to do what it takes to enforce quarantines on people suspected of having MERS.
CDC: We don't know exactly how MERS spreads, but continue your travel plans as normal Similar to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), MERS is spread through close contact with others who have the disease. There is no vaccine for the condition, and as many as 40 percent of those who contract MERS end up dying, based on the spread of infection during a 2012 outbreak that occurred in Saudi Arabia.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says people who've recently visited the Middle East should be wary, including those who've come into close contact with camels. Though MERS is believed to have emerged about three years ago, authorities still don't understand where it came from or even specifically how it spreads.
"Since May 2015, the Republic of Korea has been investigating an outbreak of MERS," reports the CDC on its website. "It is the largest known outbreak of MERS outside the Middle East. CDC does not recommend that Americans change their travel plans to the Republic of Korea or other countries because of MERS."
Nearly 1,200 confirmed cases of MERS in 25 countries, says World Health Organization Most existing cases of MERS have occurred among already immunocompromised individuals, according to reports. However, experts from the World Health Organization (WHO), South Korea, and elsewhere are looking into the spread of the virus to see who is most at risk and what can be done to minimize or eliminate infection rates.
As of June 3, there are 1,179 confirmed cases of MERS in 25 countries, according to WHO. Two cases have been reported in the U.S. -- both individuals were health workers who lived in Saudi Arabia -- but these are believed to be unrelated to the current MERS outbreak wreaking havoc throughout South Korea.
South Korea has yet to increase its disease alert level from "watch" to "warning," according to Breitbart, but officials in Hong Kong recently raise its level to "serious," which means tighter arrival control at ports of entry, according to The New York Times. Unlike the U.S., Hong Kong's Center for Health Protection recently posted an advisory to its website warning people to "avoid unnecessary travel" to South Korea.
"As the numbers of patients and people under quarantine continued to increase, the government decided to take strong steps to help ease the people's concern and fears," stated South Korean Deputy Prime Minister Choi Kyun-hwan during a recent news conference.
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