South Korea declares end to MERS outbreak

Seoul, Dec 23 (IANS) South Korean health authorities declared an official end to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak, more than seven months after the first patient was found on May 20.

The health and finance ministry said on Wednesday that the MERS will end “at midnight tonight” in accordance with the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s standards, Xinhua reported.

The midnight will mark a day when 28 days, or twice the MERS virus’ incubation period of two weeks, go by after the last patient passed away.

The ministry, however, opened a door for the recurrence of the viral disease, failing to declare a complete end to the fatal disease.

On July 28, the health authorities declared a de-facto end of the viral disease as no new MERS cases were found since July 5, but it took long to declare the official end due to MERS patients being treated.

Since the first MERS patient was found in South Korea on May 20, a total of 186 people were infected by the viral disease. Among them, 38 patients died, raising the fatality rate to 20.4 percent.

South Korea became the most MERS-infectious country outside the Middle East.

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