Middle East respiratory syndrome continues to plague South Korea as officials confirmed two more deaths in what has become the largest outbreak outside the Middle East. The country has seen four deaths so far and the country has announced significant measures to control any further spread.
Yet the government of President Park Geun-hye has been accused of not doing enough to contain the outbreak and of endangering public safety by withholding information.
The latest to assail the government was influential mayor of Seoul, Park Won-soon, who on Thursday lambasted national authorities for not disclosing that a doctor at a Seoul hospital had attended a gathering of more than 1,500 people only the day before being quarantined for symptoms.
Over 1,160 schools and kindergartens in South Korea have been temporarily closed, while many people are now wearing surgical masks when going out in public.
On Friday the government announced that five more people had tested positive, bringing the total number in South Korea to 41.
“It increased the possibility that the virus spread and infected more people,” mayor Park said, calling the issue a “grave situation.”
Health officials across the country have raced to track down anyone who may have come into contact with patients which has resulted in more than 1600 people being isolated in their homes or at state facilities.
North Korea is also now worried about the virus as on Thursday the North asked to borrow heat-detecting cameras to help screen South Korean factory managers as they commute to an industrial park run jointly by the two countries.
The South Korean government agreed to lend three of the cameras to the North, showing just how seriously the international community is taking the threat of the deadly disease.
MERS is similar to SARS, a virus that wreaked havoc on the world economy in 2003. As the virus spread world travel and tourism ground to a halt, causing tens of billions of economic losses, particularly in China, where the disease was first uncovered.