06/03/2015, 00.00
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Seoul, 200 schools closed. 30 confirmed cases and two deaths from Mers respiratory syndrome

Government will not give information regarding victims or those infected, but confirms the figure that places the nation third place in the ranking of countries most affected by Middle East respiratory syndrome.

Seoul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The South Korean government has closed more than 200 primary schools and confirmed the death of two patients suffering from the so-called Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers), adding more cases to the list of those affected.

With a total of cases30, South Korea is the third country in the world for the number of confirmed patients. The government however has refused "for security reasons" to provide the identity of patients and victims, triggering a sense of panic in the population that seems to be increasing.

The Korean Health Ministry has stated that it "aims to create" a database with patient data, which "will be shared with hospitals and the relevant authorities".

However, this attitude is creating problems even of a diplomatic nature. The government of Hong Kong has announced that travelers from Korea who show symptoms similar to Mers - even just a slight fever - will be treated as suffering from the syndrome and quarantined.

Among the new confirmed patients, four appear to have had direct contact with the first 15 people to have been infected (between 15 and 17 May) in the same health facility.

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is caused by a coronavirus and is very similar to SARS – which flared up in 2003 – that killed at least a thousand people. However, the Mers virus is far more deadly than the previous disease: in fact, the death rate is around 50%, compared with 10% of SARS.

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