South Korea reports two more MERS deaths, Thailand says no new cases

admin   •   June 22, 2015   •   2306

Employees from a disinfection service company sanitize the interior of a theater in Seoul, South Korea, June 18, 2015. REUTERS/KIM HONG-JI

Employees from a disinfection service company sanitize the interior of a theater in Seoul, South Korea, June 18, 2015.
REUTERS/KIM HONG-JI

South Korea’s health ministry reported on Monday two more deaths in the country’s Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak, which the World Health Organization said was “large and complex,” bringing the number of fatalities to 27.

Thailand, which reported its first case last week, said it had no new cases, raising hopes the virus there had been contained. Neighbouring Malaysia announced nonetheless that it was stepping up health screening at all entry points.

The outbreak in South Korea has been traced to a 68-year-old man who returned from a trip to the Middle East in early May and sought medical help at different hospitals before being diagnosed with the MERS virus.

The health ministry in Seoul also confirmed three new cases, taking the total to 172 in an outbreak that is the largest outside Saudi Arabia, but has shown signs of slowing credited to wide-reaching control measures.

MERS was first identified in humans in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and the majority of cases have been in the Middle East.

Isolated cases have cropped up in Asia before South Korea’s outbreak began last month, and Thailand reported its first case last week in a 75-year-old man from Oman who had traveled to Bangkok for treatment for a heart condition.

“Today we can assure [you] that we have found no new MERS cases,” Thai Deputy Health Minister Vachira Pengchan told a news conference.

“Overall we are able to control the virus and the risk is lower,” Vachira said, adding that the condition of the lone MERS patient was improving.

MEDICAL TOURISM

Thailand is a popular hub for medical tourism, with around 1.4 million visitors traveling there for healthcare each year, and Vachira said the public health ministry might ask private hospitals treating foreign patients to screen those traveling from high risk areas, including South Korea and the Middle East.

Malaysia, which shares a 650 km (400 mile) land border with Thailand, has already begun monitoring passengers’ body temperatures at its airports, Deputy Health Minister Hilmi Yahaya said in a statement to state news agency Bernama.

“Now, we are going further to include all entry points,” he said.

South Korea’s health ministry said last week that the outbreak may have leveled off, although it said more cases were expected. It reported no new cases on Saturday, the first time in 16 days.

The latest fatalities reported in South Korea on Monday were of patients aged in their 80s with pre-existing health problems, the health ministry said.

Most of the schools that had shut two weeks ago as fear grew about the possible spread of the virus outside hospitals were re-open on Monday, with just six remaining closed, according to the Education Ministry in Seoul.

The number of people who were in quarantine was also down to 3,833 as of Monday, a decline of 202 people from the previous day and down from a peak of more than 6,700 people last week.

All of the South Korean cases have been traced to hospitals.

(Additional reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre in Bangkok and Praveen Menon in Kuala Lumpur; Editing by Alex Richardson)

PCG aids 34 seafarers after fire incident in fishing vessel’s engine room

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 29, 2021

CEBU, Philippines—The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) assisted 34 seafarers who abandoned their fishing vessel after an engine fire.

A fire incident broke out inside the engine room of Korean fishing vessel, FV No. 96 Oyang on Tuesday (January 26). The vessel was at the vicinity waters off Panganiban, Catanduanes.

The crew, composed of 22 Indonesians, 10 Koreans, and two Filipinos ‘abandoned ship’ following the captain’s orders. Rescue operations were immediately conducted.

The PCG assisting the seafarers arrived at the Port of Cebu on Wednesday (January 27) and were transported into a quarantine facility after taking swab tests.

The survivors are being monitored by their ship company’s representative, in coordination with IATF – Region VII and South Korea Consulate based in Cebu City. AAC

DND wants to acquire helicopters from South Korea

Robie de Guzman   •   October 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday expressed his department’s intention to acquire helicopters from South Korea.

In a statement, Lorenzana said the DND is looking to acquire South Korean UH-1H and MD500 helicopters.

He, however, said the acquisition project is still in the “exploratory stage.”

Its details, including the timeline and quantity of the assets to be acquired, have yet to be finalized, he added.

In a congratulatory letter to newly-appointed Republic of Korea Minister of National Defense Suh Wook, Lorenzana also bared DND’s plan to conduct a Joint Visual Inspection (JVI) in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The team will be composed of representatives from the DND and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Lorenzana assured that the JVI will be conducted following strict biosafety protocols amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Filipinos who get COVID-19 in South Korea to shoulder full treatment cost starting August 24

Marje Pelayo   •   August 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Philippines has advised Filipinos of the policy change covering subsidies for foreigners who get infected by coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

According to the existing policy, the South Korean government has been shouldering all medical expenses of foreign nationals who get sick of COVID-19. However, starting August 24, all foreigners who get infected in South Korea within 14 days from entry must be responsible for their own medical expenses.

Currently, the Phillippine government supports treatment costs for Korean nationals who tested positive for COVID-19 and who were confined in government hospitals and other medical facilities in the country.

In exchange for this gesture, the Korean government will subsidize the hospital room charges for Filipinos in South Korea but they have to pay for their own food on top of the treatment costs.

“Therefore, we hereby recommend all Filipinos to secure private health insurance that could cover treatments received in foreign countries like Korea before entering,” the Embassy said.

In addition to this, the Embassy noted that “mutual agreements can be made in the event that the Philippine government will enlarge its financial support coverage for Koreans in the Philippines.” 

However, the Korean Embassy warned that “irresponsible foreigners and people who disobey Korean government’s quarantine policy shall shoulder all the medical costs starting from August 17, 2020.”

Among the offenses mentioned include submitting fake medical certificates and/or violating quarantine or isolation orders. 

<Public Statement on policy change of subsidizing Covid-19 positive Filipinos in Korea>○ Up to the present, the Korean…

Posted by Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Philippines on Monday, 17 August 2020

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