MERS-infected Korean doctor causes more than 1,500 people to go into quarantine

A South Korean doctor who was suspected of having MERS symptoms has come into contact with over 1,500 people, causing them to go into self-quarantine.

According to the city of Seoul on June 4th, doctor “A” comes from a large general hospital located in the city and was confirmed to have been infected with the deadly virus on the 1st after showing symptoms on May 29th. However, aware that he was showing symptoms of MERS, doctor “A” still visited multiple events and restaurants on May 30th and 31st.

MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is “a viral respiratory illness that is new to humans […] Most people infected with MERS-CoV developed severe acute respiratory illness, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Many of them have died.” 

Yonhap reports that doctor “A” most likely contracted MERS after coming in contact with the 14th confirmed MERS patient on May 27th. Soon after his contact with said patient, the hospital had ordered the doctor from seeing any more patients.

However, despite showing mild symptoms such as coughing on May 29th, doctor “A” continued to work at the hospital.

On the 30th, he was reported to have a light fever but still attended an event that the hospital was hosting in their auditorium between 9am and 12pm KST. Additionally, doctor “A” went on to eat dinner with his family at a restaurant between 6pm and 7pm, as well as attend a construction event hosted in L Tower in Yangjae, which had over 1,500 attendees.

Doctor “A’s” symptoms continued to progress with a sore throat, coughing, and a high fever on May 31st, staying only in the hospital between 9am and 10am before returning home after visiting another event and fast food restaurant. Finally at 9:40pm KST that day, he was quarantined at a hospital after he was confirmed and diagnosed with MERS.

As a response to doctor “A’s” failure to quarantine himself despite showing symptoms, the mayor of Seoul Park Won Soon stated that he will contain the list of all of the people in contact with doctor “A” and quarantine them as soon as possible.

Four people have already died due to the MERS outbreak with 1,600 people already exposed and quarantined. As of June 6th at 7:47am KST, nine more people confirmed with a diagnosed of MERS have risen the count to 50 people in South Korea who have contracted the deadly virus. The origins of three of these cases have yet to be found.

WHO (World Health Organization) will be dispatching an investigative unit on June 9th.

Source: Yonhap News (1, 2 and 3)

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