200 South Korean schools suspend classes over MERS outbreak

Seoul, June 3 (IANS/EFE) More than 200 schools in South Korea have decided to suspend classes to prevent the outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), South Korean Education Minister Hwang Woo-yea announced on Wednesday.

A total of 209 nurseries and schools, which make up one percent of the country’s 20,000 education centres, have been temporarily closed due to the increasing alarm caused by the virus, the minister said at a press conference.

South Korean authorities reported five new cases of MERS in the country, bringing the total number of infected people to 30, of which two, a 58-year-old woman and a 71-year-old man, have died.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye convened an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday to analyse the situation, Yonhap news agency reported.

MERS, that reached its peak around a year ago in several countries of the Middle East, has a mortality rate of approximately 40 percent, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Although, there is no cure or vaccine for this disease, it is equally difficult to get infected by it as it requires a very direct and close contact.

South Korean experts have pointed out that the mortality rate of the disease could be far less than that predicted by WHO as the causes of the virus are now known.

Around 1,160 people in 24 countries have been confirmed as carriers of MERS-CoV since 2012, when the first case was detected in Saudi Arabia.

–IANS/EFE
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