Another doctor at the hospital said to be responsible for half of all the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) cases in South Korea has been added to the patient list. The news comes just days after a different medical worker at the Samsung Medical Center was diagnosed with the condition. The number of medical workers with MERS in the facility has risen to 13, and the total number of infected individuals in the country has risen to 185.
South Korean government officials confirmed the diagnosis on Saturday to Yonhap News Agency. The death toll has remained at 33 over the last four days as fatalities have been avoided. The doctor’s identity at this point is being kept secret.
This outbreak of MERS in South Korea has been traced back to a 68-year-old man who was visiting the Middle East in May. He returned to South Korea from Bahrain and Qatar on May 20. The first fatalities were reported on June 2.
The cost of the outbreak has been significant in economic terms, too. As the virus spread and more cases were reported, 20,000 foreign travelers canceled their plans to visit the country. The South Korean government is planning a $13.5 billion stimulus package to try to offset the economic impacts of the virus.
A cure for the virus is not currently available, but a drug maker in New York is said to have promising treatment options in development.
The disease is said to come from camels, which are very popular in Saudi Arabia. While the death toll for humans is 40 percent, the rate for camels is much lower and the animals generally have very mild symptoms when they get MERS. The virus in camels has been traced back to 1992, and the first human case was diagnosed in 2012.
In addition to the Middle East and South Korea, Thailand recently reported a patient infected with the virus.