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MERS in South Korea: Questions and Answers


Find out what you need to know about MERS and how to avoid it


The MERS virus has become a big concern in South Korea Find out how to prevent being infected with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Avoiding public transportation during rush hour can be a good idea
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What is MERS?

MERS, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, is a coronavirus also known as "Saudi SARS" detected back in 2012 in Saudi Arabia.


How dangerous is MERS?

MERS (pronounced meh-reu-seu in Korean) is a deadly virus and it can cause death in weeks or maybe even in less time. It can affect anyone in any age group.


Is MERS airborne?

There are contradicting studies and reports for a clear answer to this question. But anecdotal evidence suggests the answer could be yes. Looking at the way MERS has spread so far, one can conclude that it can be a transmittable disease like the flu. There is also a small possibility that MERS in South Korea has mutated from the original form.


How risky is the situation in South Korea right now?

Making direct contact with a person infected with MERS is very not likely, for now. But the Korean government is under a lot of scrutiny right now for the way they are handling the situation. This raises concerns not only for MERS but also for other deadly viruses like SARS and Ebola. The more cautious people are toward an epidemic, the more likely it can be avoided. It's only when the government and the people are being careless things seem to get out of control.


How did MERS become a concern in South Korea so quickly?

Seoul, the capital city of South Korea, is one of the busiest cities in the world. During rush hour, buses and subways are packed with people so much that they can hardly move. People often share a common space with others in places like schools, restaurants, churches, hospitals, etc. Also the air is very humid in South Korea unlike in the Middle East. It is known that viruses have a higher chance of survival in damp, humid air.


How many people in South Korea are infected with MERS?

As of today (June 5, 2015), there are at least 40 people in South Korea who are infected with MERS. Up to 2,000 people are being quarantined at this moment. The population of South Korea is approximately 51,000,000. That means, even if 2,000 people are infected with MERS, the virus has spread to only 0.004% of South Korea's population.


What are the symptoms of MERS?

According to the CDC.gov website, the following are possible symptoms of MERS:

• Cough, shortness of breath
• Fever
• Nuasea, vomiting
• Diarrhea

Some people display no symptoms or very mild symptoms.


What should I do if I think I may be infected with MERS?

The best thing to do is to avoid going outside and call the hotline for MERS, 043-719-7777. (I called and asked them if there is a unique line for English speakers or foreigners. They said no. The best thing to do is call the number and ask for someone who speaks English.)


What are some preventive measures of MERS?

If you are in South Korea right now, you will see many people wearing masks. Even though wearing a mask can lower the risk somewhat, it is in no way foolproof. Here are some others ways of preventing MERS.

• Wash your hands often and thoroughly
• Avoid touching your face with your hands or fingers
• Avoid public transportation during busy hours
• Lower your body as much as possible before coughing or sneezing and cover your mouth with your arm rather than with your hand
• Open doors with your arms or shoulders and press elevator buttons using objects or knuckles
• Do not share food or drinks with other people
• Again, wash your hands often and thoroughly


How can I keep track of the number of people infected with MERS?

Check out the following link from HealthMap.
http://www.healthmap.org/MERS/

HealthMap MERS
Source: healthmap.org (06/05/2015)


KBS World News Today on MERS (June 05, 2015)


 
 

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