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(3rd LD) A dozen new MERS patients reported in S. Korea

All Headlines 11:21 June 13, 2015

(ATTN: UPDATES with WHO's assessment in last 3 paras; CHANGES dateline )

SEOUL/SEJONG, June 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported a dozen more patients infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus on Saturday, a rebound in the daily number of confirmed cases.

It raised the total number of MERS patients here to 138.

More alarming was the first report in the country of a fourth-phase infection despite the government's all-out efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare said the 12 new patients included an ambulance driver who last week transported two people diagnosed with the MERS virus in the third-phase endemic.

It dimmed the prospects of the outbreak, first reported in late May, being brought under control anytime soon.

On Friday alone, only four new confirmed cases were reported, raising cautious hopes among South Korean officials.

But the number of new patients increased again, making the weekend fight against MERS nationwide more difficult.

Meanwhile, a 67-year-old woman died, while receiving treatment at a hospital, bringing the number of MERS deaths here to 14, according to the ministry.

She had already suffered from thyroid gland and high blood pressure problems which were apparently worsened by the MERS virus, it added.

The U.N. World Health Organization (WHO) advised South Korea to prepare for a drawn-out battle against MERS.

After a weeklong on-site inspection, the WHO team said at a press briefing in the administrative city of Sejong that it would take several weeks to see a "perfect effect" from current government measures.

It cited the large scale of the endemic and complicated situations as factors.

lcd@yna.co.kr

bdk@yna.co.kr
(END)

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