NATIONAL

Korea mulling disclosure of MERS-affected hospitals

By Shin Ji-hye
  • Published : Jun 2, 2015 - 18:00
  • Updated : Jun 2, 2015 - 18:00
South Korea’s Health Ministry is struggling to decide whether it should disclose the names of hospitals and victims affected by MERS virus amid the growing public concerns.

The ministry said in its press briefing on Tuesday, “We will make a database for medics to identify the MERS patients and the medical centers where they were hospitalized.”

The information will, however, be “disclosed only to medics and not the public to avoid misunderstanding and excessive anxiety,” the official said, adding that, “Names of hospitals are not revealed to the public even in advanced countries.”

The ministry tried to allay the public’s concerns, saying the virus is under close supervision at medical centers and has no risk of spreading.

Despite the government‘s latest action, fears don’t seem to be going away and some civic groups are calling on the government to disclose more transparent information to the public.

A local civic group “Pyeongtaek Advocacy Group,” representing the region where one patient was diagnosed with the virus, is calling for making the information public.

“Fears are spreading fast but we have no idea of what the government is doing to deal with the issue. The government should be more responsible in handling the incident,” one representative of the civil group said.

Seoul on Tuesday confirmed two deaths from MERS, while six more have been added to the list of infected patients in the country. The two dead bodies will reportedly be cremated as the entire bodies are contaminated with the virus. Among the six, two are believed to be the first tertiary infection cases, the ministry said.

As of Tuesday morning, the number of confirmed cases in Korea marked 25, surpassing Jordan as the country with the third-most MERS cases in the world.

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)