WHO Chief Says Korea Can Bring MERS Under Control

      June 19, 2015 09:49

      Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, shakes hands with Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se in Seoul on Thursday.

      The head of the World Health Organization said Thursday that the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus in Korea has not shown any signs of mutation and "the risk of it spreading through the general community remains low."

      "There is no current evidence of sustained community transmission of spread with known spillover into the general population," Margaret Chan told reporters at COEX in southern Seoul. "Hopefully we can see the outbreak brought under control, although it might take some time."

      "After a slow start, the government put in place one of the strongest responses I've seen," she added. "Few other countries in the world can do this."

      Chan held the press conference hours after arriving in Korea to attend a gathering of the International Council of Nurses from Friday until Tuesday next week.

      She estimated that the number of new MERS infections is declining.

      On Tuesday, Chan chaired an emergency WHO meeting and said the situation in Korea does not constitute a "health emergency of international concern" and did not recommend travel or trade restrictions.

      Staffers stand in line to check their body temperature in front of the emergency room at Samsung Medical Center in southern Seoul on Thursday.

      Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said on Friday morning the number of confirmed MERS patients reached 166, with the death toll at 24.

      Of those who died of the viral disease, 22 were in the high-risk group due to chronic diseases or old age.

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