Thoughts about MERS in Seoul

I was excited when I came to Korea on the 27th May but after a couple of days arriving in Seoul, MERS epidemic has popped out of no where when some guy came back from the Middle East and fell sick, naturally those came in contact with him got the virus.

As the time I wrote this post, it has been confirmed that 4 deaths had been arisen and 50 people has been confirmed to have transmitted with the disease. However, those who passed away are quite elderly and had previously diagnosed with respiratory problems.

Update as at 01/07/2015 – Confirmed cases: 182, deaths : 33, discharged from hospital: 97. There has been NO new cases reported for the pass 4 days and virus obviously stabilized.

Update as at 20/6/2015 – 0 new cases & 0 new deaths (death toll 24) as of this date. Virus is subsiding.

Update as at 15/6/2015 – Confirmed cases increased to 150, while death toll rise to 16 (mostly elderly).

It is true that the virus spread at a relatively quick pace throughout Korea and there’s at least 1 death everyday due to MERS, as of now they are all 50 years and above. It can be seen that there are a few more Koreans who have their masks on recently compared to when the virus first spread. However, it is still not as scary as medias reported. Although the amount of Koreans having masks on increased slightly, it is still a very small number (5% maybe) compared to those who don’t have it on. MERS is actually not air-borne, as per experts.

As an evidence, the guy who first caught with MERS traveled back to South Korea in a plane, and if it was spread by air, he should have already transmitted the virus to all the passengers on board. But as of today, it can clearly be seen that the virus are spreading through the hospitals and not by air and public.

I first thought that the virus spread fast due to Korean’s common food sharing culture. But it is a fact that it did not spread through this method.

However, my advice is still not to share food with people and keep your hands cleans.

Of course if you felt threaten by the virus, you could always put on a mask. Note that mask are really expensive now in Korea, and most of the place are out of stock. Please bring your own so that you don’t need to struggle finding for masks.

Update 15/6/2015: MERS did not spread publicly as of today and only spread through hospital visitors and patients, and some of their family members had it too. Avoid HOSPITAL at all cost.

The number of people infected are increasing quite rapidly, however, the government is barely doing anything to actually try prevent the virus from spreading even more. Try avoiding hospitals too if possible as many of these confirmed cases are spread through hospital visits.

Update 15/6/2015: Government had been disinfecting the subways every now and then.

Due to this outburst, business in Seoul took a direct hit as well when people starts cancelling trips and bookings they have made prior to the outbreak. From a report from Korean Tourism Organisation, 7,000 people are said to have cancelled their trips to Korea, while visitors who are in Korea during this period too have decided to shorten their trip and return to their country earlier.

Visitors to Insadong and Myeongdong can be seen to have decreased by a huge number too.

If you’re wondering, it is actually STILL SAFE to visit Korea, though my advice is to anyhow keep a hand sanitizer with you at all times, and wash your hands before eating. You can also visit the MERS map website for MERS affected areas in Korea (Korean only though).

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