South Korea is buckling under MERS pressure with four more cases reported on Wednesday, fearing the imminent outbreak at the crossroads, departing from its last week stand that the disease has ceased to spread.
Fearing an outbreak, the government has set aside an emergency budget of 10 trillion won ($9 billion) and extended the partial shutdown of Samsung Medical Center in Seoul beyond Wednesday. The hospital has been the centre from where about 179 infections in the country have been traced, including the latest ones.
“We are at a crossroads, whether this is going to spread further or not,” Kwon Deok-cheol, the health ministry’s chief policy official, told media on Wednesday. “As of now we can’t answer that part because additional cases have occurred, although we thought until last weekend it had leveled off.”
The reported cases of MERS dwindled down from a peak of 20 to zero on June 20 giving relief to the country but again on Wednesday the panic button was pressed with four more cases from the same source point and now the country is fearing a possible outbreak soon, if not addressed immediately.
A total of 67 people have recovered so far and 27 died in South Korea, making it the second after Saudi Arabia to witness the disease in the last one month.
The heir apparent of South Korean conglomerate Samsung Group followed the tradition of bowing in apology, televised nationally, for failing to stop the spread of the virus at the hospital.