A Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak in South Korea infected 186 people, and claimed 36 lives. On Tuesday, July 28, 2015, South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-Ahn declared the end of this biggest MERS outbreak outside Saudi Arabia.
In a meeting with government officials, Hwang said, "After weighing various circumstances, the medical personnel and the government judge that the people can now be free from worry."
The MERS outbreak has taken a toll on Asia's fourth largest economy, stifling consumer spending. Local businesses including shopping malls, restaurants and cinemas reported a sharp drop in their sales as people shunned public venues with large crowds.
The South Korean government recently announced a 22 trillion won ($19.8 billion) stimulus package, much of which was aimed at supporting businesses hurt by the MERS crisis. The tourism industry was hit particularly hard, with the number of foreign visitors plunging by over 40% in June compared to a year ago, and a further 60% in the first two weeks of July.
Vice tourism minister Kim Chong said, "Seoul plans to spend up to 30 billion won on campaigns to lure back travelers including free promotional tours and large concerts by big-name K-pop stars."