Although it is to early to officially declare Korea’s MERS outbreak over, the country hasn’t confirmed a new case since July 4th (13 days ago), and hopes are running high that an official end to this event can be declared sometime in August.
Strictly speaking, the standard for declaring an outbreak over is going twice the max incubation period (in this case 2 x 14 day=28 days) after the last infected case in the country tests negative.
According to media reports at least two of the 16 hospitalized cases are still testing positive for the virus, which means that clock hasn’t officially started yet and an end date may still be a month or more away.
South Korea – which is anxious for their society to return to normal - is considering an interim step; downgrading their current infectious disease alert status from `caution’ to `attention’ early in the first week of August – 28 days after the last new infection (see Korean Herald report S. Korea mulls announcing end to MERS
Last night’s update shows no new deaths, and only 16 patients still receiving care (4 still listed in unstable condition).
In a sign of increasing normalcy, the Korean Times is reporting that Samsung Hospital in Seoul - which became the second large epicenter of infection, and ultimately produced the greatest number of nosocomial cases (n=91) - is expected to resume normal operations on Monday after being partially closed last month.
By Jung Min-ho
Samsung Medical Center, which was blamed as a major source of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) infections, will resume normal operations on Monday as the epidemic shows signs of abating, health authorities said Friday.
Shaken by the rising number of MERS infections in its wards, the hospital in southern Seoul partially shut down on June 14.
"Samsung Medical Center will be allowed to resume normal operations on Monday unless any new problems emerge," Kwon Deok-cheol, head of a MERS task force under the Ministry of Health and Welfare, said.