South Korean public-health officials confirmed that another individual diagnosed with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome died on Monday morning, raising the ongoing outbreak’s death toll to 16.
The country’s latest MERS victim was a 58-year-old male patient who succumbed to the respiratory virus while being treated at a local hospital, reports South Korean news agency Yonhap.
According to official statistics, 150 people have now been diagnosed with the potentially fatal disease. At least 17 of them are said to be in “unstable condition.”
Authorities have placed more than 5,200 people nationwide under isolation to impede the transmission of the virus. Officials said thousands more may be quarantined in the coming days.
Over the weekend, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced plans to hold emergency talks on Tuesday to address the contagion. The WHO described the outbreak as both “large and complex” and warned that the virus would most likely continue to spread. However, officials said the disease does not appear to have mutated.
“We know that there has been much anxiety about whether the virus in the Republic of Korea has increased its ability to transmit itself between humans,” said Keiji Fukuda, WHO assistant director general for health security, in a statement released on Saturday.
“However, based on available sequencing studies of this virus, it does not appear to have changed to make itself more transmissible.”
In a small slice of good news, thousands of schools across South Korea were set to reopen their doors this week after being shuttered earlier this month, reports Reuters. At least 440 schools will remain closed.
On Monday, South Korean President Park Geun-hye called on her fellow citizens and industry leaders to return to business as usual to prevent the country’s economy from taking a further battering.
“I ask the business community, too, to continue to go on with investment, production and management activities as normal and particularly help with ensuring that consumers don’t hold back from spending money,” said Park.
The four-week-old outbreak first began spreading across South Korea when a 68-year-old man was diagnosed with the virus on May 20 after returning from a trip to the Middle East.
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