MERS demonstrates need for public health strategies

The China Post news staff

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus is causing alarm in neighboring South Korea and China. As of Sunday, 15 cases of the severe form of SARS have been diagnosed in South Korea, including a man who went to mainland China via Hong Kong, defying health authorities’ border control efforts and subsequently leading to dozens of others needing to be quarantined.

With a fatality rate of 30-40 percent, MERS is indeed a deadly foe. Air travel remains a big problem, as our quarantine procedures need to be reinforced for the inevitable breach in defenses when a patient comes through borders without the disease being noticed �X an event that sometimes cannot be helped when symptoms develop afterward. Fever, coughing, and irritability in the respiratory tract are symptoms of the infection. Because so many contagious diseases share the same traits, it is now contingent on the public to reinforce the protocol for daily hygiene, including washing hands frequently and wearing a mask if coughing. Health authorities have also identified consumption of uncooked food and camel milk as high-risk factors.

Compulsory quarantine for deadly diseases such as MERS is necessary for the well-being of both the uninfected as well as the carriers. The Korean man who traveled to Guangdong first lied to South Korean health personnel about visiting his father, who was in hospital for MERS, and then lied to Hong Kong border inspectors when he was questioned for displaying a fever, saying that he did not have any contact with MERS-related patients, according to the United Daily News (UND).