South Korea on Thursday confirmed 14 new cases of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), bringing to 122 the total number of people diagnosed with the potentially deadly disease.
Out of the 14 new patients, eight have been infected while visiting Samsung Medical Center in Seoul, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
The hospital, one of the largest in the capital, has been a major source of infection after it had unknowingly treated a MERS patient prior to the person’s diagnosis.
One of the patients is a 39-year-old woman in the late stage of her pregnancy, who is believed to have been infected while visiting her sick mother at the emergency room of Samsung Medical Center.
The woman is currently in stable condition, while the medical team tending to her said they will perform a cesarean section if her condition deteriorates.
Currently 13 people diagnosed with MERS are in unstable condition, according to the health ministry.
The country has reported nine MERS-related deaths since the outbreak was first confirmed May 20.
No additional fatality was reported overnight, the ministry said.
MERS is a viral respiratory illness that is fairly new to humans with the first-ever case reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Some 1,100 cases have since been reported in about 20 countries, mostly in and around the Middle East.
The disease had a very high fatality rate of over 40 percent before the outbreak here.
In South Korea, the fatality rate of the disease has remained below 10 percent.
To help prevent the disease from spreading further, the government is isolating all MERS patients and those who have come in close contact with them.
As of Thursday, the number of people in isolation reached 3,805, up from 3,439 the previous day.
So far, four people previously diagnosed with the viral disease have been discharged from hospitals following complete recoveries.
The government is also daily updating the list of hospitals affected by MERS, meaning they either have been identified as a source of infection or a person diagnosed with the disease has visited them.
The number of MERS-affected hospitals reached 55 as of Thursday, up from 29 on Monday.
The ministry said it will also release a list of those unaffected by the disease, a move aimed at allowing the people who need medical attention to visit hospitals that are safe from MERS. (Yonhap)