*all imagery on this BLog is exaggerated fiction about worst scenario
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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 :

  1. (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 .
  2. (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 .
  3. (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 .
  4. (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 ]

  1. (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 .
  2. ( 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 :

  1. 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 .
  2. among diagnosed patients to-date : there are a few super-spreaders who tend to infect the virus to others much more,
  3. “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”.

 

 

[ F.A.Q.]

  • 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 –