Creative Commons Image Courtesy of Ashley Van Haeften on Flickr
Creative Commons Image Courtesy of Ashley Van Haeften on Flickr

By Bruno Martino,

The South Korea is experiencing unexpected difficulties due to a new and lethal epidemic. This illness is called MERS and killed at least 11 local citizens. The South Korean officials are very worried about this phenomenon and are taking extraordinary emergency measures in these hours. According to Il Post “It is not clear if the virus that causes the MERS is transmitted by air or by direct contact”[1]. The consequences of the MERS are horrible on the human body. In fact it generates “fever, coughing and acute respiratory syndromes, such as pneumonia”[2]. At the moment there aren’t effective medicines to stop its virus.


The emergency conditions have created a state of chaos in the South Korean capital Seoul and other major cities. The latest figures about the number of casualties made by MERS aren’t definitive and reliable. For example, according to the Belfast Telegraph the real number of victim isn’t 11 but “14”[3]. It seems that this diseases comes from Middle East territories and arrived to South Korean through unknown ways. The fear of MERS is so strong that “2,900 schools and nurseries remained closed yesterday”[4] and “authorities in South Korea have temporarily closed two hospitals”[5]. The outbreak of this pandemic has totally distraught the daily activities of the local citizens in Seoul. For example according to The Telegraph many shops “were bereft of customers”[6].


The local authorities have suggested some guidelines to prevent the expansion of the virus, but many local citizens have lost their confidence in the government. They suppose that their politicians aren’t able to handle the situation in a credible manner. Some of these guidelines suggest to “avoid visiting crowded places as much as possible and to wear face masks in public”[7]. Obviously the conditions of fear created a negative impact in the local economy and a huge decrease in sales. According to BBC “weekly sales in store drop by 12% while online sales went up by 50%”[8]. Most of the South Korean citizens are wearing masks and prefer to receive food at home.


The name MERS is an acronym for “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome”[9]. According to The Independent the true origin of the MERS is linked to camels from Saudi Arabia[10]. These animals can have transmitted this virus to human beings. Moreover it seems that it arrived through a 75 years old man who travelled from Oman to South Korea[11]. Another serious risk is that MERS can reach other territories such as Hong Kong and Macau. Even the BBC supports the controversial theory, which links MERS to camels[12]. In fact one of its journalists called Jonathan Ball said, “Camels aged less than four years might be a major source of MERS”[13] and 90% of camels “became infected by the age of two and virus shedding was more common in calves than in adults”[14].


Finally the economic upheaval created by MERS damaged the credibility of South Korean Central Bank. In fact “Its policy rate was reduced by 0.25 percentage points to 1.5%”[15] and “Economists said the outbreak of MERS could stop the country’s economic recovery”[16].


[2] Ibidem.


[4] Ibidem.

[5] Ibidem.



[8] Ibidem.


[10] Cfr. Ibidem.

[11] Cfr. Ibidem.

[12] Cfr.

[13] Ibidem.

[14] Ibidem.


[16] Ibidem.

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