U.S. virus expert undermines likelihood of MERS becoming a pandemic

While the MERS threat has been one of the most pressing issue in South Korea recently, a U.S. virus expert thinks that the potential of the virus becoming a wide-spread pandemic is small.

Taking away five lives and infecting at least forty-four confirmed people, the Middle East Respiratory System virus has urged many in South Korea to take precautionary measures and worried many potential and current tourists.

Regarding the probability that MERS with escalate into a pandemic in South Korea and around the globe, Vincent Munster, virus unit chief at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Maryland, USA, stated, “I think the chance for this to happen is still fairly small. The (South Korean) government is taking appropriate measures to prevent further spread. In order for the MERS-coronavirus to become a pandemic, it has to acquire the ability to spread more efficiently from human-to-human in the general population and not only in a health care setting.

He continued to state that whether one dies from MERS depends on the immune system of the person, so some may be mildly infected but symptoms might not show, while those with health issues like obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases lead to higher chances of being detected. One thing to also note is that those confirmed as infected in South Korea are mostly older people.

Many are making the comparison with the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) pandemic which killed hundreds in 2003, but MERS is said to be deadlier and less infectious.

With no cure determined as of yet, South Korea has been putting infected people into quarantine, while MBC Music Core has also taken measures by making sure only those equipped with masks can participate in music show recordings.

As revealed exclusively by The Fact last week, Samsung‘s CEO Lee Kun Hee (73 years old) is recovering well at Samsung Medical Center, where many are confirmed to be infected with MERS, but there are no plans for him to move.

Although this could reassure many that MERS might not be as infectious as SARS, the current phenomenon is still not a laughing matter.

Source: Yonhap News (1 and 2)

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