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South Korea confirms new Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus cases

The number of people affected with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in South Korea has now risen to 30. On Tuesday the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that the country could expect more cases of the syndrome, which has killed two people since the first case was confirmed on May 20th.

The disease first appeared in 2012 in Saudi Arabia and to date there have been at least 1,161 cases, with at least 436 related deaths, the vast majority in the Middle East. MERS is caused by the coronavirus from the same family as the one that triggered SARS, which spread around the globe in 2003 and killed about 800 people.

With numbers of cases growing, there has been an increase in public concern with public events being cancelled and more than 200 schools were closed on Wednesday, mostly around Seoul where the first death occurred.

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Symptoms of MERS can include cough, fever and shortness of breath. It can lead to respiratory failure. There is no known cure or vaccine.

By Fiona Carty

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