Go to contents

Strengthened oversight, public cooperation crucial to blocking spread of MERS

Strengthened oversight, public cooperation crucial to blocking spread of MERS

Posted June. 09, 2015 07:24,   


"Let’s join forces to halt the spread of MERS."

As 20 days have passed since Korea’s first MERS patient was confirmed, mounting voices are calling for strengthened management of risk factors that could help spread the infectious disease, including an inefficient medical information system, quarantine at home by people who are exposed to MERS that has revealed many loopholes, and super spreaders.

That is, even though the number of MERS patients has increased far more than expected, Korea can keep MERS at bay only if the country can prevent further spreading by strengthening management of the outbreaks because the infections have only occurred at hospitals.

“MERS has not spread to local communities yet, and virus has not shown instability in structure such as mutation,” said Jeon Byeong-ryeol, a public health professor at Yonsei University. “As such, if loopholes in management are completely sealed off, additional mass infections of the disease can be successfully prevented.”

To this end, efficient management of patient information and thorough supervision of home quarantine of people suspected of exposure to MERS is required. The country needs a system in which patients’ disease history and hospitals that they have visited are promptly identified, before such information is shared fully with medical institutions concerned. Also, oversight of people who are under quarantine at their own homes need to be strengthened as well, as some of them ran loose of quarantine on their own. People under quarantine at home could more easily transmit the virus to people around them than those hospitalized, because the former are subject to relatively sloppy case management and oversight.

With the number of patients and people in isolation having increased, people’s cooperation has become all the more important as well. Following the health authorities’ guidelines including those on quarantine at home more proactively, and visiting medical institutions to be tested when one has symptom are some of the activities that people have to voluntarily cooperate.