South Korea allocates $42mln to fight MERS, 19 dead & 5,586 quarantined


© Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji
A woman wearing a mask to prevent contracting Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) walks in central Seoul, South Korea, June 15, 2015.

The government of South Korea has authorized the use of over $45 million in reserve funds to support the nation's struggle with an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which took three more lives on Tuesday. The South Korean Cabinet has approved the use of 50.5 billion won (US$45.2 million), offered by the finance ministry, to purchase special materials and equipment, as well as boost medical staff, Yonhap news agency reported.

"The money will be allocated in a timely manner to support the government's all-out effort to contain MERS," the ministry said.

The funding is to go to the state-run National Medical Center, located in Seoul, which currently serves as South Korea's central MERS treatment facility. It will also help hospitals that treat non-MERS patients which are overloaded because the outbreak has led some other hospitals to temporarily closing.

In addition, the government has promised to provide monetary compensation for people who have been kept in isolation as a result of the outbreak.

Seoul has not ruled out the possibility of dedicating additional funds to fight the disease in the future.

The first MERS case in the Asian country was confirmed on May 20. With 5,586 people currently in quarantine, the outbreak has become a real health crisis. Of the 154 people diagnosed with the virus, 19 have died.

The fatality rate of the disease is estimated at 12.3 percent by the South Korean health ministry, which is a much lower figure than the previous estimate of 40 percent.

MERS infection is more probable for people with underlying medical problems, who are also more likely to suffer severe consequences due to the disease.

Another name for the virus is "camel flu," the first known case of which was reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. The symptoms include fever, coughing and shortness of breath, but there can be more serious complications, such as pneumonia or kidney failure.


"The coronavirus family includes MERS, SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, and the common cold. Some of the MERS symptoms are similar to SARS. It causes lung infection and fever but differs in that it also causes rapid kidney failure. While the MERS virus can be transmitted from person to person, it is not as easily transmitted to the general public. It is considered less transmissible than the SARS virus, which made headlines and generated hysteria when it infected 8,273 people and caused 775 deaths from 2002-2003."

That's from here, in an article written by sott editor Shane LaChance about this time last year.