On Sunday, the president of the Samsung Medical Center, in the capital Seoul, issued a public apology as it was revealed that the Center has been the source of nearly half the cases of Mers (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome). More than seventy cases have been traced back to the hospital. It is believed that an emergency ward orderly, who continued to work for days at the center despite developing symptoms of the infection, may have infected more than 200 people.
Authorities also suspect that he may have caught the infection from an infected person who waited for prolonged periods of time in the emergency ward, possibly risking 900 hundred other staff members, including patients and visitors.
“We apologize for causing great concern as Samsung Medical Center became the centre of the spread of Mers,” he said. “This is entirely our responsibility and failing, as we did not properly manage emergency-room staff.
Since the revelation, the center has stopped outpatient treatments, non-urgent surgeries and is no longer admitting new patients for risk of spread of the virus. Visitors have also been restricted as a measure to curtail the virus.
This is the largest reported outbreak of Mers after it was initially recognized in the Middle East, back in 2012, causing the first death in Saudi Arabia in June of the same year.
The disease is caused by a coronavirus, a virus which includes SARS and the common cold, however, it is still known how its transmitted from one person to another. Likely possibility is droplet infection when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The infected patients most commonly report having a fever, cough and breathing difficulties but it can also worsen and lead to pneumonia and kidney failure.