Fear of pandemic: Seoul has become a ghost town

Fear of pandemic: Seoul has become a ghost town
Tens of thousands are canceling trips and public places are empty, because of fear of the virus that can not be cured or treated.

The virus Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) has so far claimed eleven lives in South Korea, according to the newspaper Korea Herald.

3680 people are in quarantine, and 126 people are confirmed infected with the dangerous respiratory illness, which creates fear in the country.

Images from the metropolis Seoul, with over ten million inhabitants, also show that fear of the epidemic is very much present in the country.

Everywhere there are workers in full infection-protective suits, spraying streets, movie theaters, and entire neighborhoods with antiseptics.

- Seoul has become a ghost town, writes Telegraph's reporter in the city.

Major events in the city have been canceled, and 2,400 schools have closed as a result of the outbreak.

Images from the subway station, where millions of people usually pass through daily, shows empty spaces. Many shops are experiencing lower sales and fewer customers. More than 54,000 travelers have canceled planned trips to South Korea this month, according to tourism authorities.

Meanwhile, South Korean authorities encouraged people to return to everyday routines.

- There are fewer confirmed new cases, and there is little risk of airborne infection or spread of the virus outside the hospital. Therefore, we ask people to overcome the fear and continue with everyday life, writes the health authorities in a statement.

It is feared that the disease will spread freely among people, and according to the Korea Herald, experts fear that this may already have happened. The reason for this is uncertainty about how a 36 year old police officer could be infected with the disease.

MERS was detected in South Korea on 20 of May. South Korean officials say that all the sick have been infected by people who are already carriers of the virus.

There is no cure, no medications for the treatment and no vaccine for prevention of MERS, according to to the Public Health Office. And the virus is believed to be more lethal than the SARS virus that originated in China in 2002.

Over 8,000 people were infected by SARS and 800 died.

Studies show that the preliminary incubation period (time from infection to symptoms occur) is somewhere between two and 14 days, but most develop symptoms after three to four days.

It is believed that camels in Muslim countries are the reservoir of the virus and that people are infected with the virus through direct or indirect contact with sick camels.

WHO has urged Muslims to refrain from drinking camel urine or milk because of the MERS virus.

The virus, has so far been detected in 25 countries:

Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Hirata, Algeria, Tunisia, Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Turkey, UK, China, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines and USA.

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