The death toll from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in South Korea increased to 10, state-run news agency Yonhap reported Thursday. The respiratory disease has infected 122 people in the country so far, in the largest spread of the virus outside Saudi Arabia.
South Korea's ministry of health and welfare said that the latest victim, who was 75 years old, was reportedly infected while he was receiving treatment at Konyang University Hospital in central city of Daejeon for terminal lung cancer. The ministry also said, according to Yonhap, that by Thursday morning, 13 people diagnosed with the disease were in unstable condition.
The number of hospitals, affected by MERS, rose to 55 on Thursday from 29 on Monday, it added. Two hospitals in the country have been shut down due to MERS with staff, patients and visitors from the second clinic sent into quarantine, CNN reported Thursday. Over 3,800 people have been quarantined in the country to curb the spread of the deadly disease.
"MERS is making things harder for many small-time shop owners and ordinary people," Choi Kyung-hwan, the acting prime minister of South Korea, said, according to Yonhap, adding: "The government is committed to providing the public with all related information regarding MERS and it will also do more to communicate the latest developments to foreign countries."
Infections in South Korea reportedly started with a man, who returned from a visit to the Middle East and came in contact with other patients at a Korean hospital, before he was diagnosed with the disease. No vaccine is available yet for the disease, which has prompted the closure of over 2,200 schools and colleges in the country. The disease has killed over 40 percent of the diagnosed people in nearly 20 countries so far, Yonhap reported. Its symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea, nausea, pneumonia and kidney failure.
The Gyeonggi provincial office of education also reportedly said Thursday that the province's 1,255 schools and kindergartens, which were asked to cancel classes amid the increasing spread of MERS, will resume work next week.
On Thursday, the Bank of Korea also cut its interest rate to 1.5 percent due to "concerns following the MERS outbreak about contractions in domestic demand activities such as consumption and in economic sentiment," it said in a statement, according to CNN.
A South Korean official said Thursday, according to Yonhap, that its 14 citizens, who were quarantined in hospitals in Hong Kong and China, had been discharged. Four of them were released on Wednesday and the rest on Thursday.