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(LEAD) S. Korea reports two more MERS deaths, 5 new cases

All Headlines 09:05 June 15, 2015

(ATTN: UPDATES with additional details from 3rd para)

SEJONG, June 15 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported two more deaths from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) on Monday, along with five new cases that brought the total number of people diagnosed with the disease here to 150.

The latest fatalities raised the number of MERS-related deaths in South Korea to 16, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

One of the deceased was a 58-year-old who had diabetes while the other was 61 years old with no-known medical history. Both of their identities were withheld for privacy reasons.

With the latest deaths, the fatality rate of the disease in South Korea came to 10.7 percent, significantly lower than the over 40 percent tallied globally.

The ministry said 17 of those diagnosed were currently in unstable condition.

The number of people diagnosed with the potentially deadly disease has reached 150 with the five new cases.

Of those diagnosed so far, 64 percent were either patients or hospital staff who came in close contact with MERS patients, the ministry said.

Nearly all infections have occurred at hospitals that had unknowingly treated MERS patients with possibly the only exceptions so far being an ambulance driver and a rescue worker who had helped transport MERS patients.

Since the outbreak of the viral disease was first confirmed May 20, the country has isolated those who have come in close contact with known patients.

As of Monday, the number of people currently in isolation came to 5,216 while some 2,500 people have been released after testing negative or showing no symptoms for the maximum incubation period of MERS.

So far, 14 people previously diagnosed with the disease have been discharged following complete recoveries.

MERS is a viral respiratory illness that was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Since then, some 1,100 cases had been confirmed throughout the world until the outbreak here.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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