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(2nd LD) S. Korea reports one more MERS death

All Headlines 18:20 July 10, 2015

(ATTN: RECAST headline, lead; UPDATES with more info in paras 2-7)

SEJONG, July 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported one more person dying of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) Friday, bringing the death toll to 36, despite no new cases of the potentially deadly disease over the past five days.

The latest victim, who had suffered from lung cancer, died while undergoing treatment at the Boramae Medical Center in Seoul, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said. The total number of people diagnosed with MERS in South Korea remained unchanged at 186.

Ministry officials said the country may be able to declare an end to the MERS outbreak if it continues to see no new infections.

However, over 560 people still remain in isolation as suspected cases following possible exposure to the MERS coronavirus.

Since the country reported its first case on May 20, nearly 16,700 people have been in isolation for possible infections. So far, 16,102 of them have been released after showing no symptoms of MERS for more than the known maximum incubation period of 14 days for the disease.

Out of those diagnosed, 125 have been discharged from hospitals following complete recoveries.

The remaining 26 were still hospitalized as of early Friday, according to the ministry.

Authorities, meanwhile, said as of midnight, KyungHee University Hospital in Gangdong, southeastern Seoul, will be allowed to resume normal operations after no new MERS cases have been reported there in the past two weeks. Several hospitals around the country were ordered to partially suspend treatment or were closed outright, after multiple cases of MERS were reported among patients and visitors. Restrictions on most have since been lifted.

MERS is a viral respiratory disease that is still fairly new to humans. The disease has claimed over 530 lives globally, posting a fatality rate of over 36 percent.

In South Korea, the fatality rate remains at 19.3 percent, with most people succumbing to MERS having underlying medical conditions.

There currently is no vaccine or treatment for the disease that was first reported only in 2012 in Saudi Arabia.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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