The first new person in five days has been infected with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in South Korea, bringing the current infected total in the Asian country to 183, the South Korean news agency Yonhap News reported Thursday morning. The newest patient was a nurse at the Samsung Medical Center in Seoul, where 88 percent of the infections are said to have originated.
There have also been at least 32 deaths since the outbreak was first discovered in South Korea on May 20. The virus is not native to the country and was reportedly carried in by a 68-year-old man after he visited the Middle East.
The rapidly spreading virus has resulted in some strict measures to combat the spread of MERS, which normally does not quickly spread. Officials have announced that fines and imprisonment may await infected people who fail to take the necessary, and required, sanitation measures while they're sick.
Two treatment options have been in development that researchers consider to be promising for the long run. These developing solutions comprise antibody-based medicines that could prevent or treat the disease, though successful trials have been conducted only on mice so far.
The impact of the outbreak has been significant in the country for more than just health. In addition to the rising number of deaths and infections, the people of South Korea have been panicked, and the country is spending a lot of money to try and fix the problem.
The fear has manifested in closed schools and people avoiding contact with one another. While going to the store or work, people have taken to wearing protective masks.
South Korea is also planning a $13.5 billion stimulus package to counter the economic impacts of the disease outbreak.
While it is generally thought that the disease is spread through respiratory channels, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the method of infection is not well understood. MERS symptoms include fever, coughing and shortness of breath. Three to four people of every 10 infected with the disease die.
The disease has reportedly also spread to Thailand.