11:23 GMT24 January 2020
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    South Korea has declared a "de facto end" to the outbreak of MERS.

    TOKYO (Sputnik) — South Korea has declared a "de facto end" to the outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Virus (MERS), the Yonhap news agency reported Tuesday, citing the country's Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn.

    On Monday, the country's Health Ministry said South Korea had gone 22 days without reporting any new case of infection.

    "After weighing various circumstances, the medical personnel and the government judge that the people can now be free from worry," Hwang said.

    The prime minister also apologized for the South Korean government's insufficient measures to the virus, which claimed lives of 36 people in the country since it arrived in May.

    The official announcement of the end of the MERS outbreak will be made in August following 28 days free of infection as required by the United Nation's World Health Organization.

    A total of 16,693 people were quarantined at various times during the epidemic. The diagnosis was confirmed in 186 patients, with 12 people still under treatment in Korean hospitals.

    There is currently no approved vaccine for MERS. People with chronic illnesses or a weak immune system are at a higher risk of contracting the viral respiratory disease. The mortality of the virus in Korea stands at 19.4 percent.


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    South Korea, virus, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)
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