June 08, 2015 09:26
The government on Sunday published the names of 24 hospitals and clinics that have treated patients for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, including the six where infections occurred.
The announcement, which is largely symbolic since the names had long leaked out, came 18 days after the first confirmed case of MERS was reported.
The government had refrained from naming of the hospitals and clinics for fear of inciting panic and causing them financial losses. But as the number of infections grew and websites outed the hospitals, the policy had to be abandoned.
Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan told reporters, "This is part of the government's effort to put an end to the epidemic as early as possible."
Seven of the hospitals are in Seoul, 11 in surrounding Gyeonggi Province, three in South Chungcheong Province, two in Daejeon and one in North Jeolla Province.
"The transmission route of MERS has been restricted to hospitals," Choi said. "The hospitals have implemented safe quarantine measures, so there is no possibility of infections spreading indiscriminately among the public."
The government's previous approach of merely tracking those who came into direct contact with MERS patients has not been a success, seeing a dozen of new patients every day.
A senior government official said, "The crucial timing is this weekend, when the latency period ends for many of those who came into contact with infected patients."
But the government decided not to raise the alert level, since no infections have occurred outside hospitals.
There are now nearly 90 confirmed MERS cases and six deaths, while the number of people who have been quarantined after coming into direct contact with patients stands at over 2,500 as of Monday.
Choi vowed to bolster efforts to monitor people who have been placed under home quarantine and seek to track their whereabouts via mobile phones. The government also plans to assign one heath worker per quarantined person to ensure effective monitoring.
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