South Korea’s last confirmed Middle East respiratory syndrome patient died Wednesday, after fighting both the disease and cancer for more than five months since contracting the virus. The 35-year-old had suffered the longest battle against the disease among all MERS patients worldwide to date, according to Korea’s Health Ministry.
He was the 38th Korean to die from the viral respiratory illness since its outbreak in May, raising the nation’s MERS fatality rate to 20.4 percent.
The patient was Korea’s 80th confirmed MERS case. He had been suffering from cancerous lymphoma prior to contracting the virus while being treated at the Samsung Medical Center’s emergency unit in May.
A Seoul-based hospital`s separate, temporary clinic for potential MERS patients is now left unused. Yonhap
Upon being confirmed as a MERS patient on June 7, he received treatment at a quarantine facility until his release on Oct. 3. Before the release, he had tested negative for the virus twice consecutively.
However, he was hospitalized again on Oct. 11 at Seoul National University Hospital after experiencing high fever. After being readmitted, he tested positive once again for the MERS virus.
Prior to his rehospitalization, the Health Ministry had planned to announce the official end of MERS for the country on Oct. 29. Health authorities declared a de facto end to the outbreak of MERS on July 29.
Under the World Health Organization guidelines, the official declaration of an end to an outbreak cannot be made until at least 28 days after the last patient has tested negative for the virus.
“We think it’s inappropriate to talk about the declaration when a patient has just passed away,” Kim Young-taek, an official from the Health Ministry told The Korea Herald. “We choose not to comment on any plans on the declaration for now.”
By Claire Lee (email@example.com