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Sixth MERS death thins crowds in South Korea

Monday, June 08, 2015 - 01:39

South Koreans are avoiding large crowds and buying masks, as the sixth MERS death sparks fears of the virus spreading. Yiming Woo reports.

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Baseball, one of South Korea's favourite sports, usually attracts masses of people. But fears of catching the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome has shrunk the crowds by half. The disease has killed six people in the country. People overseas are also avoiding trips to South Korea. President Park Geun-hye says she's worried about the impact on the economy. (SOUNDBITE) (Korean) SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT PARK GEUN-HYE SAYING: "The effect from MERS on private consumption cannot be overlooked because spending and tourism are quickly shrinking." Her government's come under fire for failing to respond quickly to the outbreak. The country has at least 80 infections, the highest of anywhere outside the Middle East. Many people have gone out to buy masks, and many pharmacies found themselves in short supply. (SOUNDBITE) (Korean) SOUTH KOREAN PHARMACIST AT SAMWON PHARMACY, LEE JONG-MIN, SAYING: "The news of the MERS outbreak is quite sudden. The local mask company or supplier, even importers like 3M, don't have enough products. We can only sell about 600 masks a day even though 1,000 masks are in demand. It means demand is much greater than supply." Experts say a face mask can block large particles and prevent the virus spreading. Symptoms of MERS can include a cough, fever and shortness of breath, and can lead to respiratory failure. It has no cure or vaccine.

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Sixth MERS death thins crowds in South Korea

Monday, June 08, 2015 - 01:39