Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a disease that can cause symptoms like those of pneumonia, along with severe shortness of breath. In what has become the largest outbreak of the MERS virus outside Saudi Arabia, South Korea has reported three more fatalities from the deadly disease, taking the country's total death toll from the MERS outbreak to 19.
South Korean health ministry has now reported a total of 154 confirmed cases, with 17 cured and released from hospital. Of the 118 being treated, 16 are listed to be in unstable condition while most of the fatalities had some pre-existing health problems.
Three of four new cases were traced to Samsung Medical Center, one of the two epicenters of the outbreak. More than 70 MERS cases have been traced to the hospital, one of the most prestigious in South Korea, forcing it to temporarily shut down services on Sunday, June 14, 2015. Pyeongtaek St. Mary's Hospital, which has been closed after being traced with the second largest group of patients, plans to reopen later this month as no more cases have been tracked down to the facility in Pyeongtaek City, 65 kilometers (40 miles) south of Seoul.
The number of new cases has been gradually declining from June 12, 2015, to four on Tuesday, June 16, 2015, sparking hopes that the outbreak might be showing early signs of easing. Currently, more than 5,500 people are in quarantine while 3,500 others have been released.