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Korea safe from MERS: Foreign Ministry

The South Korean government told foreign diplomats on Monday that the country is now safe from the Middle East respiratory syndrome outbreak with statistics highlighting that the disease is under control and will soon disappear. 
Lee Key-cheol, ambassador for Overseas Koreans and Consular Affairs at the ministry, speaks during a briefing on the MERS for foreign diplomats at Seoul’s Foreign Ministry in central Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)
Lee Key-cheol, ambassador for Overseas Koreans and Consular Affairs at the ministry, speaks during a briefing on the MERS for foreign diplomats at Seoul’s Foreign Ministry in central Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)
During the second round of its briefing for embassy staff from more than 110 nations and international organizations, Seoul’s Foreign Ministry stressed that the MERS outbreak is “coming to an end,” while urging the diplomats to help promote their citizens’ travel to Korea.

Delivering his opening remarks, Lee Key-cheol, ambassador for Overseas Koreans and Consular Affairs at the ministry, said that a variety of data related to the outbreak demonstrated that foreign tourists no longer need to fret about traveling to Korea.

“We are safe in Korea from the MERS virus ― not only outside the hospital but also in the hospital. However, Korea is never relaxed. We are never self-conceited,” he said, noting that in the initial stage of the outbreak, Seoul made “trials and errors” in its anti-infection campaign.

“The Korean government will continue to prepare for all possibilities with its eyes open, following the full guidelines of the WHO until MERS in Korea is officially declared to be over.”

Lee underscored that there have been no infections outside the hospital since the first MERS outbreak two months ago, and that for the last 16 days no new patient has been found despite the maximum incubation period being 14 days.

He added that the number of patients testing positive for the MERS virus has sharply declined.

“Many specialists say that the MERS outbreak in Korea is virtually over. I believe it is the right time for Korea and the international community to make a concerted effort to normalize people-to-people exchanges,” he said.

By Song Sang-ho (sshluck@heraldcorp.com)
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