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Dozens quarantined in China on Mers fears

ON GUARD: Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul yesterday. President Park yesterday scolded health officials for allowing a man infected with the Mers virus to leave South Korea. The man flew to Hong Kong from Seoul last Tuesday.


    Jun 02, 2015

    Dozens quarantined in China on Mers fears


    MORE than 680 people have been quarantined or put under special observation in South Korea following the spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) virus to the country last month, while more than 80 in China and Hong Kong have been placed under similar observation.

    China was searching for 13 people who had come into contact with a South Korean man last week, who was the first person to enter the country with the disease, Chinese health officials said, adding that 64 others had already been quarantined.

    The man, 44, flew to Hong Kong from Seoul last Tuesday, before travelling overland to Huizhou in Guangdong by bus, ignoring the advice of doctors to stay at home, the China Daily reported.

    China and Hong Kong were tracking a total of about 200 people who had taken the same flight and the same bus with the man, reported South Korea's Chosun Ilbo.

    The man was under observation in Guangdong and "his vital signs are stable, and his heart rate and blood pressure normal", said the China Daily.

    None of those who have been quarantined in China are "appearing unwell", Agence France-Presse quoted the Chinese health authority as saying late on Sunday.

    South Korean President Park Geun Hye yesterday scolded health officials for allowing the infected man to leave for an overseas business trip despite warnings from doctors.

    She also said at a meeting of aides that "(South Korea's) initial response to Mers...was insufficient" and called for "all-out" government efforts to curb any further spread.

    South Korea is moving to place a temporary ban on people exposed to Mers from leaving the country, the Korea Herald quoted officials as saying yesterday.

    The country's Health Ministry said that a total of 682 people have been quarantined or put under special observation.

    Seventeen confirmed Mers cases in South Korea have been linked to a 68-year-old man who returned from Bahrain via Qatar on May 20.

    They were either patients or visitors to the hospital where the man was being treated.

    Later, a 58-year-old woman who had contact with the first patient but was not tested, died of respiratory failure, a Health Ministry official said, adding that clinical tests were being conducted to verify the cause of death, reported Reuters.

    The South Korean outbreak is the largest among countries outside the Middle East.

    More than 20 countries have been hit by the virus, which has claimed more than 400 lives since 2012.

    In Hong Kong, 18 people - who sat near the South Korean on the flight from Seoul - have been quarantined, said the city's Centre for Health Protection.

    The South China Morning Post reported that among them were two South Korean women who initially refused to be taken to the isolation camp in Sai Kung.

    They are liable to a fine of HK$5,000 (S$870) and six months' imprisonment, according to the city's regulations.