South Korea MERS cases rise to 41

Seoul, June 5 (IANS) Five more cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) have been detected in South Korea, raising the total to 41, the authorities said on Friday.

The overall toll has risen to four and the latest victim was a 76-year-old man and had been the third person to contract the illness after sharing a ward with other MERS patients, the health and welfare ministry said.

Among the five new cases, a chief master sergeant in the Osan Air Base has been infected, the first case of MERS contagion in the military, Xinhua news agency reported.

The 45-year-old soldier was tested positive on Thursday in the initial test and received the final confirmation for the viral disease on Friday.

Some 60 soldiers at the air base, where South Korean and US troops are stationed, have been isolated for possible contagion.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) data, about 1,600 people have been quarantined in South Korea, most at home but some in medical institutions.

The new cases bring the total globally to about 1,185, with at least 443 related deaths.

MERS is considered a deadly but less transmissible cousin of the Severe Actue Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus, which erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected thousands of people.

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