Last Tuesday, South Korea confirmed the first two deaths in the country caused by Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. Currently, the country is battling the virus that has claimed the lives of hundreds in the Middle East.
Twenty four cases have been confirmed in South Korea since the first recorded diagnosis of MERS last month in a male who had been in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries. Most cases of the disease in South Korea were connected to the first patient such as medical professionals who had direct contact, patients who were near the man in the hospital, or family members of those patients.
According to the Health Ministry in a statement, a 58-year old woman who died because of acute respiratory failure last Monday was tested to have had MERS. Another victim was a 72-year old man. A statement revealed that both patients stayed in the hospital with the first carrier.
Last Tuesday, health officials stated that about 750 South Koreans had to be isolated in their homes or state—run facilities because of the contact they had with the initial patient. Depending on the conditions, that number could rise and those infected might not be allowed to leave the country.
Public alarm has been growing as the South Korean media criticizes their government over its slow initial response. An example is the 50 schools and kindergartens near a hospital where the 58-year old patient died who only cancelled classes after parents asked the schools to take action.