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KHMU INFO <2> June 3, 2015

KHMU Urge Government to Take Comprehensive Action to Respond to MERS

2 Die, 680 Isolated, 22% of confirmed patients with MERS found medical staff

Since Korea’s first confirmed patient with MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) coronavirus was reported on May 20, additional 25 have been confirmed as MERS patients in South Korea and two out of them has so far died.  On June 1, the Ministry of Health and Welfare revealed that the number of isolated people either at home or in medical institutions sharply increased to 682. Worries about further outbreak of MERS became heightened after the country’s first ‘tertiary infected’ case appeared along with the death of the two patients mentioned above. 


On May 30, KHMU President Yoo Ji-Hyun announced a statement in press conference held before the Blue House that the government should form a pan-government taskforce body directly under the Presidential Office. She also requested the government to take the viral disease as a national level disaster, to take actions corresponding to its urgency and seriousness with tertiary infection being considered beyond secondarily infection, and to raise the level of national epidemic crisis to ‘warning’ from ‘caution’.


KHMU set up a MERS response team and investigated the actual situation relevant to MERS. The urgently conducted research revealed that medical institutions currently treating MERS patients are extremely in poor condition. As part of the result, as of May 31, four confirmed patients out of 18 (22.2%) were found doctors and nurses who have treated patients with the respiratory virus.


The government stated that it designated hospitals specializing in MERS patients for more efficient controls at a comprehensive level. The manuals about MERS treatment, however, are not fully shared among healthcare service providers and medical staff has yet to be properly trained, which lead them to be exposed to a high risk without any preventive preparedness. Worse more, only a mere 105 beds nationwide are placed in rooms equipped with low atmospheric pressure facilities and even the depressed rooms are not single person rooms but shared rooms. Hence, the 105 beds cannot be fully consumed for patients due to infection risks.

 

The number of healthcare experts dedicated to patients with MERS is insufficient. For instance, a medical center, reported “A,” where five confirmed patients are hospitalized, closed five intensive units and two wards in order to treat MERS patients while deploying 30 nurses for MERS treatment alone.


A total of 17 doctors in the center are treating the patients, suffering severe fatigue, as there are no doctors to rotate the position.

KHMU has urged the government to disclose if the nation is fully ready to prevent and cure the new infectious disease and equipped with sufficient number of proper infrastructure both in terms of human and physical resources. It has also requested the government to all-out reveal preparedness of 17 designated hospitals and 211 public healthcare facilities. 

 


Figure> On May 30, KHMU President Yoo Ji-Hyun announced a statement in press conference held before the Blue House


Further, the healthcare labor union demanded that the government should come up with a comprehensive action plan to support confirmed patients and isolated citizens for possible infection, medical staff, and medical institutions; and open more accurate information to the public and general healthcare centers and produce and circulate effective guidelines to curb MERS coronavirus.


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