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South Korea reports another death and new infections from MERS outbreak

South Korea has confirmed the death of a fourth victim of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS. The virus has resulted in the closure of hundreds of schools around the country.

Four people have now died

from an outbreak of MERS in South Korea

, the country's health ministry has announced. The latest victim was a 76-year-old man who had been sharing a ward with other MERS patients.

The ministry also said there were five new infections, bringing the total in South Korea to 41 - the largest outbreak outside Saudi Arabia.

The latest death comes shortly after the third MERS death in South Korea was confirmed on Thursday: an 82-year-old man who was originally being treated for asthma and pneumonia.

Some 1,600 people have been quarantined across the country.

Hundreds of schools have been closed in South Korea, and the government's public MERS hotline has been inundated with thousands of worried callers. North Korea has said it is worried the virus could spread across the border.

MERS has killed around 400 people globally - from more than 1,100 infections. It is considered a deadlier but less infectious cousin of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.

While more than 20 countries have reported MERS cases, most have been in Saudi Arabia. There is no known cure or vaccine to fight the virus.

The World Health Organization said it expects more cases in South Korea, but stressed there was "no evidence of sustained transmission in the community." Despite this, the government of President Park Guen-hye has

come under criticism

for failing to respond faster.

jr/bk (Reuters, AFP)

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