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South Korea reports 16th MERS death as outbreak grows

South Korea says it now has a total of 150 cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Another person has died of the disease, bringing the number of fatalities in the outbreak to 16.

South Korea's Health Ministry on Monday reported five new cases of MERS, bringing the total number of people infected with the virus in the country to 150.

It also said a 58-year-old man infected with the virus had died - the 16th fatality in the current outbreak, which began on May 20 when a 68-year-old man was diagnosed with the illness after returning from a visit to Saudi Arabia, where more than 950 people were infected and 412 died from the disease.

Almost all the Sout Korean patients were infected in hospital, the epicenter of the outbreak being the Samsung Medical Centre in the capital, Seoul, where more than 70 patients, visitors and medical staff contracted the virus.

Potentially deadly

More than 5,200 people in South Korea are currently under quarantine for the virus, for which there is no vaccine. The disease has a mortality rate of 35 percent, according to the World Health Organization.

People suffering from other underlying medical conditions are the most likely to become infected with the virus or have a severe case.

The rapid pace at which the illness has spread, making it the biggest outbreak outside Saudi Arabia, has caused alarm in South Korea, Asia's fourth-largest economy.

A South Korean man in isolation at a hospital in the Slovakian capital, Bratislava, is meanwhile to undergo another round of tests to ensure he is not infected with MERS, with conclusive results expected within 24 hours.

The 38-year-old man, who arrived in Slovakia on June 3 for work purposes, was admitted to hospital on Saturday with diarrhea, fever and skin lesions.

tj/jil (AFP, Reuters)

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