Samsung Medical Hospital has announced its decision to suspend most of its services, such as outpatient treatment, and admission of new patients.
Hospital president, Song Jae-hoon, said, “We apologize for causing great concern, as Samsung Medical Center became the center of the spread of MERS. This is entirely our responsibility and failing, as we did not properly manage emergency-room staff.”
This was in light of the findings that the medical center ranks highest in the incidence of MERS-CoV infection, with a record of more than 70 cases.
There are now 145 cases of MERS-CoV in South Korea and 15 recorded fatalities.
The World Health Organization, in a joint press conference with the country’s health ministry, has warned South Korea to expect more MERS cases, since the outbreak in the country is large and complex. But, it has ruled out the possibility of the situation turning into a pandemic.
Government efforts have been able to contain the situation in a way that the virus has not spread in the community, despite the rising number of cases of viral infection.
Pyeongtaek St. Mary’s Hospital is also one of the medical centers that has the most number of MERS cases. It is one of the hospitals visited by the businessman who had brought the deadly disease to the country from the Middle East.
The MERS virus is among the deadliest killers in history. These microorganisms have wiped out millions and millions of people in various continents with their capability to invade cells and alter their host’s DNA.
This invasion results in diseases that can spread like wildfire. Among the deadliest viruses are Ebola, which was first reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976 – causing major organ failure and excessive bleeding if a person gets infected, Marburg – which came from African green monkeys that were used in polio vaccine research, Lassa, and Hanta viruses, which are both carried by rodents and are highly contagious, since they are airborne, and Dengue, Smallpox, Influenza, Rabies, and Bird Flu. Yet, the deadliest virus may prove to be what man had produced in his own laboratory.
In 2011, Dutch scientists had created a new strain from H5N1, the Avian flu virus. This caused global alarm. The scientists had made the virus even more highly-contagious, instilling in it the capability to be transmitted via air.
An expert on epidemiology argued, “Part of what makes H5N1 so deadly is that most people lack an immunity to it, explains Marc Lipsitch, of the Harvard School of Public Health. “If you make a strain that’s highly transmissible between humans, as the Dutch team did, it could be disastrous if it ever escaped the lab. “H5N1 influenza is already one of the most deadly viruses in existence, he added. “If you make [the virus] transmissible [between humans], you have to be very concerned about what the resulting strain could do.”