June 10, 2015 09:35
A woman in her 70s became the third patient in Korea to make a full recovery from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome on Tuesday, 20 days since the first confirmed case of the deadly disease was discovered.
Kim Bok-soon, who has suffered from asthma for 20 years, was infected at St. Mary's Hospital in Pyeongtaek and became the 18th confirmed case of MERS. She spent eight days in intensive care.
Health officials said her recovery shows it is possible to win the battle against the disease if the public cooperates.
There were some positive signs on Tuesday. No additional infections were reported at St. Mary's Hospital, while the number of infections at Samsung Medical Center in southern Seoul, another hot spot, is on the decline.
But patients, family and other visitors who had come to see the sick at Samsung Medical Center slipped through the quarantine net and sought treatment in other hospitals, raising fears of further infections.
The number of hospitals where MERS infections were reported rose from 24 on Sunday to 35 on Tuesday.
Oh Myeong-don at Seoul National University said, "The most important thing is to stem the rate of infections from one hospital to another. Public cooperation is essential."
It is difficult to track people who visited hospitals where MERS infections were discovered. Among the 95 confirmed cases as of Tuesday, 31 were not patients in hospitals where the virus spread but family members of patients, visitors or staff.
If potential carriers who have yet to be detected continue to move from one hospital to another in search of treatment, MERS could spread beyond control.
Experts said people with possible MERS symptoms should not go to hospitals because they risk infecting hundreds of others. Instead they should call the nearest state-run health center or regional call center (120) and follow the instructions of officials.
People with a high fever or cough should not move from one hospital to another. And patients should inform doctors which hospitals they visited over the last few weeks so they can properly assess the possible route of transmission and stem further infections.
Patients who have been ordered to stay at home must follow instructions to protect others from infection.
Meanwhile, 13 new cases of MERS have been confirmed overnight, bringing the total to108, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said Wednesday.
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