By Jung Min-ho
The World Health Organization (WHO) is set to send a rapid response team to Korea to help the country cope with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a source said Tuesday.
The team will consist of “five to 10 epidemiologists,” the source said, and the WHO is waiting for the final confirmation from Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare.
The government made the request Sunday in order to prevent the deadly virus from getting out of control.
Once they arrive, the WHO officials plan to start genetically sequencing the virus found in Korea immediately, a step which is vital to slowing down progression of the disease and ultimately developing drugs to treat it, the source said.
Sequencing the virus is expected to help them figure out whether the virus is closely related to the one found in Saudi Arabia, where Korea’s first MERS patient visited in April.
As of Tuesday, the health authorities had only partial sequenced it, meaning they didn’t know whether the virus has mutated or not.