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1 MERS suspect left in isolation

With no additional reports of a possible infection of Middle East respiratory syndrome, South Korea has only one suspected patient still under quarantine Friday, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said.

The number of patients diagnosed with MERS remains unchanged at 186 as the country reported no fresh cases of the disease for the 19th consecutive day. 

The last person in isolation will be released at midnight next Monday if he shows no symptoms of MERS until the day, the ministry said.

MERS killed 36 people in Korea, with no additional deaths from the disease reported for 13 days. The fatality rate stands at 19.4 percent as of Friday.

Currently, 12 people are hospitalized, with 11 of them having already tested negative for the virus. Four patients remain in unstable conditions, the ministry said.

Since MERS broke out on May 20, some 16,700 people have been placed under quarantine upon possible exposed to the virus, with the number reaching its peak on June 17.

Most of them were released after they showed no symptoms of MERS after 14 days, the incubation period for the virus.

The government reportedly is mulling declaring a complete end to the MERS outbreak sometime next week amid the sluggish tourism industry and slowing domestic spending hit by the MERS outbreak.

Korea has seen the biggest outbreak of MERS outside Saudi Arabia, where the virus was first discovered in 2012.

By Ock Hyun-ju (