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    Jun 08, 2015

    Seoul to go 'all out' as Mers toll rises


    SOUTH Korea reported its fifth death from the Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) as the government yesterday vowed "all-out" measures to curb the outbreak that was threatening to spread nationwide, including tracking the mobile phones of those in quarantine.

    A 35-year-old man diagnosed with Mers in a Seoul hospital had exposed more than 890 people to the virus, reported The Straits Times, quoting a government spokesman.

    According to Reuters, the government, criticised over its lack of transparency in handling the outbreak, bowed to public pressure yesterday and identified 24 health facilities where infections had taken place or where Mers patients had visited.

    The number of infections rose to 64 after 14 new cases, including one death, were confirmed late on Saturday night, the Health Ministry said.

    It is the largest outbreak outside Saudi Arabia, where it has infected more than 950 people since 2012.

    As of yesterday, more than 2,300 people had been placed under quarantine of varying degrees. About 2,100 were told to stay home and strictly limit their interactions with others, while about 200 were isolated in state hospitals.

    The 14 new cases involved people already in quarantine after being exposed to those diagnosed earlier, Agence France-Presse quoted the ministry as saying.

    However, the Busan city authorities reported an additional case in the country's southern port and second-largest city, sparking alarm that the outbreak may spread nationwide.

    The case was not included among the 14 new infections confirmed by the Health Ministry. Acting Prime Minister Choi Kyung Hwan vowed yesterday that "all-out efforts" would be made to curb the spread of the disease in Asia's fourth-largest economy.

    He urged the public not to panic, saying all 64 patients were already in hospital quarantine.

    "We can put the situation under control because... the outbreak is not spreading to the outside community," Mr Choi said in a press conference.

    "People should not overreact and should cooperate closely (with the government) to minimise negative impact on the economy."