South Korea has reported a new case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers), the first after a four-day break in infections.A total of 183 people have now contracted Mers in South Korea since it was first detected there in May – 33 of those people have died.
The latest patient is a female nurse at a Seoul hospital where 88 people are known to have caught the virus.
The Samsung Medical Center has closed indefinitely to tackle the outbreak.
Last month the clinic’s president apologised publicly for its failure to properly manage Mers admissions, allowing the virus to spread.
Mers is a new flu-like virus which first emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012, where it has killed more than 400 people.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said 2,238 people who had come into contact with Mers patients were in isolation as of Thursday, down from 2,451 the day before.
But it said South Korea had now gone two consecutive days without a new death.
On Wednesday, the country announced an ease on visa regulations for Asian visitors, in an attempt to stem the damage done to the tourist industry by Mers fears.
Officials say foreign visits in June were down 50% compared to the same period last year.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers)
- Mers is caused by a coronavirus, a type of virus which includes the common cold and Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome).
- First cases emerged in the Middle East in 2012, and the first death in Saudi Arabia in June that year.
- It is not known for certain how it is transmitted. It is possible the virus is spread in droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
- Patients have a fever, cough and breathing difficulties, but Mers can also cause pneumonia and kidney failure.
- Approximately 36% of reported patients with Mers have died – there is no vaccine or specific treatment.