*all imagery on this BLog is exaggerated fiction about worst scenario
No You are NOT watching classic pandemic movies OutBreak 1995, Anromeda Strain 1971 and 2008 .. and this Post is mostly a concensus round-up of local media head-lines than my own editorial .
[ HOW IT ALL BEGAN ]
it began as a few head-lines on local media, of how an old Korean elder returned from the Middle East, tried several hospitals and finally diagnosed with MERS Middle East Respiratory Syndrome – a 40% death-rate virus disease, or so it is known .
those who heard it on the first Week knew it deadly but took it as an isolated case . the second Week was the scariest, as there seem to be media blockage and government was saying nothing : about happenings nor how to prevent or care for it . all-the-while : local information leaked throughout On-Line social networks, which all except the eldest Koreans were connected to virtually 24 hours in the Millennium . so most learnt knew which hospitals closed emergency rooms and even quarantined over the first few nights.
many would have believed the government’s announcement that all is fine, but just a Year ago a passenger vessel sank with its out-sourced captain announcing – especially students on a field trip – to stay inside .. then abandoning ship himself : resulting in over 200 dead . later whether this shipping company passed various inspections and rehauled with government aid, and to top-it-off : civilian as well as military divers may have been forbidden to immediate rescue efforts, so that only a Coast Guard-contracted company would . none were rescued after the ship sank .
to top this off : the government issued a warning with a word that translates to “covert rumours” which seem to have been used as propaganda, during earlier military dictatorship – that anyone spreading such rumour will be arrested, gulp //
however by the end of the second Week : two City Mayors, of the Capital’s satellite City SungNam and of SEOUL spoke-up, openly revealing their cities’ current situation, short of naming effected patients AND exact hospitals involved . after that, the mass media was filled with MERS news .
[ GEOGRAPHIC REGION ] T.B.A.
[ WHY MERS MAY HAVE SPREAD SO QUICKLY THROUGHOUT SOUTH KOREA ]
largely related to administration procedures in emergency rooms of larger University Hospitals and modern cultural tradition of caring for hospitalized family :
- (Weather) Seasonal temperature in South Korea : Summer came earlier this year as dry hot weather persisted end of May 2015 – the known atmosphere where MERS seem to thrive .
- (Population) Koreans dwell in concentrated geographical populace, cluttered around larger cities – so-much-so that a hand-ful of massive satellite cities have formed around them . just imagine : endless rows of artificial apartment complexes .
- (Medication) as Duty-Free Shops see no end in profit – thanks to foreign designer-brand name sales : everyone head for the largest hospital in town for serious illness – thus long waiting is common in University Hospitals . although this trend has been reducing as national medical care improved and specialist doctors opened-up on almost every corner, the wait at larger hospitals are still quite long especially at emergency rooms .
- (Culture) it is common practice for a close kin to nurture a hospitalized family member throughout the night, while nurses only administer temperature checking and periodical shots even in small neighborhood as well as larger hospitals .
[ MEDICAL INSTITUTIONS ]
Korean National Medical Care is quite developed by now, to be respected even by other developed nations, so-much-so it is surprising this nation is going through such confusing panic . although serious illness commonly follow a ritual of : beginning at your neighborhood doctor and moving to a further and larger hospital as you are diagnosed more serious – short of implying negligence was at the heart of the beginning-point a.k.a. Patient-Zero, this could have been sheer bad-luck for such an advanced nation and its medical and welfare system – technically although may not be morally, as the nation rose too quickly perhaps skipping on some righteous lessons .
[ POINTS OF CONCERN ]
- (Politics) the nation was able to achieve immense progress after the divided Korean War, merited by close cooperation between government and big business . thus its citizens may believe the government would seek to protect larger hospitals than its common people . so mass hysteria and panic ensue when the government shuts-up at the on-set of a deadly epidemic and decrees to levy punishment on rumour-makers .
- ( Millennium ) all those commuters on the bus, in the subway and in coffee shops around every corner stuck on their smart-phones : are either watching streaming video or messaging, so words spread in hours in this Tweeting era, if not minutes throughout the Peninsula and even to Korean communities living abroad .
[ EPIDEMIC ]
although seemingly the same strain (though not full-100% identical so far), MERS spread in South Korea during the past three Weeks show a different, wider set of parameters than known from earlier cases abroad mainly in the Middle East, as verified by end-of-day June 9 Tuesday and ofcourse there is a possibility haste initial measurements can be wrong :
- MERS previously thought to effect another person within 2 meters ⇒ a doctor who wasn’t near the patient got infected,
- deemed to infect when situated close for more than an hour ⇒ today’s patient – an emergency room guide – was close for mere ten minutes,
- dormant period expected to be 2~14 days ⇒ maximum 18 days !
- spread most active between 5~7 days ⇒ 6th Patient passed infection from second day of being diagnosed,
[ MERS ] seem to head for the lungs and kidneys, and severely damage those already ill, but healthy patients have recovered from mild-to-severe cold, fever and/or flu symptoms .
[ MERS KOREA ]
by the end of the third Week since Patient-Zero diagnosed, there are 3 aspects of this MERS almost sure :
- current MERS strain to have hit South Korea seem to have not mutated, thus is NOT air-borne, except in hospital surroundings where breathing is aided by inserting a tube into patient’s lungs, inciting deeply-poised virus to splash-out in the form of droplets, further circulated by air conditioning system .
- among diagnosed patients to-date : there are a few super-spreaders who tend to infect the virus to others much more,
- “a Central Control Tower” announced to have been operated by the government – as a larger body which would in essense should have been widely effective – might have failed either by medical and/or situational ignorance and/or erroneous strategy to contain local media and general population than the actual virus and its infected .. thus so a regional solution task force – smaller and swift, may be more efficient if not as “Plan B”.
- if this MERS is known to spread only within hospitals, why are people around South Korea wearing masks ?
– because some citizens do not believe current reports, and possibility still exist this may be more contageous than believed so-far .
[ ADVICE ]
- hand-sanitation liquids and disposable medical masks have been out-of-stock at drug-stores throughout South Korea since June 4 Thursday . most have been restocked almost a Week there-after today June 9 Tuesday, and another nation-wide shipment expected to come on 11th Thursday . larger drug-stores will have more and those immediately near larger University Hospitals will have uncomparably much more quota . when buying masks : known MERS virus is larger than 5 micrometers . Koreans weren’t essentially mask-wearers in contrast to neighboring Japan, with longer history of literally-packed subway congestion during communiting hours – thus they have more variation of masks and variation of colors in beige, light yellow, light pink and sky blue .
[ RELATED LINKS ] only in South Korea with one of the fastest internet connection on Planet Earth, could such informative websites pop-up within days .. but all in Korean
- surprisingly efficient independent map indicating detailed passage routes of diagnosed patients ≫LiNK≪
- South Korea’s reputed Daum Map indicating all hospitals MERS patients have gone through ≫LiNK≪
lastly, Distasteful Award of the Month goes to some members within a handful of local On-Line Expat Community Forums, who take this lightly and keep on joking about current phenomenon, that some of the boards have been closed by administrators . this may be due to ignorance as developing situation may not be available in many languages //
( Please hold your impulsive comments, as situation constantly swifts a good TWO Weeks into this Out-Break )
– Forgive Us Our Lord, Korea Tech BLog –