South Korea declares formal end to MERS virus outbreak

AP News
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Posted: Dec 23, 2015 3:12 AM

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea has declared a formal end to an outbreak of the MERS virus that killed 38 people and sickened dozens of others.

The Health and Welfare Ministry says in a statement Wednesday that the outbreak is now finished. It comes about a month after the last infected patient died.

Health officials say the announcement is in line with international standards that require 28 days to pass with no new cases. That's twice the maximum incubation period of the virus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

The virus usually does not spread easily, but experts suspect crowded emergency rooms and hospital wards might have contributed to a wider-than-expected transmission in South Korea.

Since the outbreak started in May, 186 people in South Korea were infected.