South Korea has reported three more fatalities from the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), bringing the death toll to 19 in an outbreak that began in May.
South Korea’s Health Ministry on Tuesday also confirmed four new cases, bringing to 154 the total number of confirmed cases.
According to the ministry, 17 of the 154 people have also been cured and released from hospital.
Meanwhile, 16 of the 118 being treated are also listed in unstable condition.
Despite reports of new fatalities, health officials have expressed optimism that the outbreak might be showing signs of easing as the number of new cases has been gradually falling from 12 on Friday to four on Tuesday.
“What is noteworthy is the fact that the number of new cases has been falling over the past few days,” a senior Health Ministry official told journalists. “More cases are expected to occur sporadically but we don’t expect to see new cases occur in groups,” he added.
All of the infections have taken place in South Korea’s hospitals or medical centers.
On Sunday, the Samsung Medical Center, one of the two epicenters of the outbreak, temporarily suspended most of its services after being identified as the source of almost half of the cases.
Meanwhile, the Seoul city government also on Tuesday launched a massive disinfection campaign.
There are more than 5,500 people in quarantine while some 3,500 others have been released in the Asian country, which has the largest outbreak outside the Middle East.
MERS was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. The disease is part of the corona virus family of viruses, which includes the common cold and SARS. It can cause symptoms including fever, breathing problems, pneumonia and kidney failure.
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