6th person dies of MERS virus in South Korea

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MERS Outbreak in South Korea Largest Outside of Saudi Arabia
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea on Monday reported its sixth death from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome as authorities were bolstering measures to stem the spread of the virus that has left dozens of people infected.

A total of 87 people in South Korea have been infected by MERS since last month in the largest outbreak outside the Middle East. About 1,870 schools have closed and more than 2,000 people are isolated at their homes or state-run facilities after having contact with patients infected with the virus.

An 80-year-old man, who tested positive for the virus last week while being treated for pneumonia, died Monday and became the country's sixth death linked to MERS, according to a statement from the Health Ministry.

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6th person dies of MERS virus in South Korea
A woman wearing a face mask walks past an electronic board at an arrival gate of Gimpo international airport in Seoul on June 17, 2015. South Korea on June 17 announced its 20th death from the MERS virus as criticism grew of efforts to contain the outbreak, with alarming reports of new cases slipping through a quarantine that already affects thousands. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
South Korean workers spray antiseptic solution at the customs, immigration and quarantine office (CIQ) of Gimpo international airport in Seoul on June 17, 2015. South Korea on June 17 announced its 20th death from the MERS virus as criticism grew of efforts to contain the outbreak, with alarming reports of new cases slipping through a quarantine that already affects thousands. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - JUNE 16: Disinfection workers wearing protective clothing spray anti-septic solution in an karaoke amid rising public concerns over the spread of MERS virus on June 16, 2015 in Seoul, South Korea. South Korea has reported 19 deaths from Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and the total number of people diagnosed with the disease is 154 as of June 16, 2015. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - JUNE 16: Disinfection workers wearing protective clothing spray anti-septic solution in an karaoke amid rising public concerns over the spread of MERS virus on June 16, 2015 in Seoul, South Korea. South Korea has reported 19 deaths from Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and the total number of people diagnosed with the disease is 154 as of June 16, 2015. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
South Korean workers wearing protective gear fumigate a theater at the Sejong Culture Center in Seoul on June 16, 2015. South Korea on June 16 reported three more fatalities from MERS, taking the country's death toll from the outbreak to 19 as four new cases were confirmed, the health ministry said. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
Two women wearing face masks look at a map as they stand on a street in the popular Myeongdong shopping district in Seoul on June 15, 2015. South Korea reported on June 15, two more deaths and five new cases in the growing outbreak of MERS which has placed more than 5,200 people under quarantine and sparked widespread alarm. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
South Korean health officials fumigate a theater while wearing protective gear in Seoul on June 12, 2015. South Korea on June 12, reported four more cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), bringing to 126 the total number of people diagnosed with the potentially deadly virus. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
GOYANG, SOUTH KOREA - JUNE 09: A disinfection worker wearing protective gear spray anti-septic solution in an subway amid rising public concerns over the spread of MERS virus at Seoul metro railway base on June 9, 2015 in Goyang, South Korea. South Korea has reported eighth death, 2,892 quarantined, and 1800 schools closed as of June 9, 2015. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
GOYANG, SOUTH KOREA - JUNE 09: Disinfection workers wearing protective gears spray anti-septic solution in an subway amid rising public concerns over the spread of MERS virus at Seoul metro railway base on June 9, 2015 in Goyang, South Korea. South Korea has reported eighth death, 2,892 quarantined, and 1800 schools closed as of June 9, 2015. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
South Korean medical workers in full protective gear walk past in front of the emergency section at the Samsung Medical Centre in Seoul on June 11, 2015. South Korea's outbreak of the potentially deadly MERS virus on June 11 forced the central bank to cut its key interest rate to ward off greater economic damage, as retailers report a slump in business. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
A general view shows the Seoul city skyline facing South East towards the Han river (C) on June 11, 2015. South Korea's outbreak of the potentially deadly MERS virus on June 11 forced the central bank to cut its key interest rate to ward off greater economic damage, as retailers report a slump in business. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
A man wearing a face mask checks his reflection on a building in an alleyway in Seoul on June 9, 2015. South Korea on June 9 reported its seventh death from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) as the government -- concerned about the economic impact -- said it hoped to end the crisis this week. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - JUNE 09: Elementary school students wear masks as a precaution against the MERS virus as they wait for a lesson to start at Midong Elementary School on June 9, 2015 in Seoul, South Korea. South Korea has reported eight deaths related to the virus with 2,500 people quarantined and 1,800 schools closed as of June 9, 2015. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
A couple wearing face masks walk on a street in the popular student area of Hongdae in Seoul on June 7, 2015. South Korea reported its fifth death from MERS as the government on June 7 vowed 'all-out' measures to curb the outbreak that was threatening to spread nationwide, including tracking mobile phones of those in quarantine. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
A student has her temperature taken by a teacher outside the Sungshin elementary school in Seoul on June 8, 2015. South Korea recorded its sixth death and biggest single day jump in Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) infections, with 23 new cases in the largest outbreak of the potentially deadly virus outside Saudi Arabia. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
Airport personnel wait for passengers to check their temperature as part of preventive measures against the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) at the Hong Kong international airport on June 5, 2015. Meanwhile, South Korea reported a fourth MERS case, as an infected doctor fuelled fears of a fresh surge in cases and prompted Seoul's mayor to declare 'war' on the virus. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Passengers get their temperature checked as part of preventive measures against the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) at the Hong Kong international airport on June 5, 2015. Meanwhile, South Korea reported a fourth MERS case, as an infected doctor fuelled fears of a fresh surge in cases and prompted Seoul's mayor to declare 'war' on the virus. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Tourists wearing face masks look at a map as they stand in the popular Myeongdong shopping area in Seoul on June 4, 2015. The Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO) reported that around 7,000 tourists -- mostly from China and Taiwan -- had cancelled planned group trips to South Korea, citing the MERS outbreak as the main reason, a KTO spokesman said. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
Volunteer tourist assistants wearing face masks gather in the popular Myeongdong shopping area in Seoul on June 4, 2015. The Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO) reported that around 7,000 tourists -- mostly from China and Taiwan -- had cancelled planned group trips to South Korea, citing the MERS outbreak as the main reason, a KTO spokesman said. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
In this photo taken on June 3, 2015 a woman wearing a face mask walks past Gyeongbokgung palace in Seoul. Hundreds more schools closed in South Korea as officials struggled to ease growing panic over an outbreak of the MERS virus that has infected 35 people, killed two and caused thousands to cancel travel plans. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - JUNE 04: Tourists wear masks as a precaution against the MERS virus at the Gyeongbok palace on June 4, 2015 in Seoul, South Korea. Two deaths from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) have been confirmed on June 2, 2015, and the number of confirmed local patients have risen to 35 as of June 4, 2015. More than 700 schools from kindergartens to colleges have been closed. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
South Korean school students wear face masks during a special class on MERS virus at an elementary school in Seoul on June 3, 2015. South Korea on June 2 reported its first deaths from an outbreak of the MERS virus that has infected 25 people, caused widespread alarm and triggered a closer watch by Asian neighbours on Korean arrivals. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman wearing a face mask crosses a street in Seoul on June 3, 2015. More than 200 primary schools shut down as South Korea struggled to contain an outbreak of the MERS virus that has infected 30, killed two and triggered widespread fear. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
South Korean school workers spray sanitizer on hands of students to protect against possible MERS virus at an elementary school in Seoul on June 3, 2015. South Korea on June 2 reported its first deaths from an outbreak of the MERS virus that has infected 25 people, caused widespread alarm and triggered a closer watch by Asian neighbours on Korean arrivals. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
South Korean hospital workers set a separated emergency center for MERS cases at the National Medical Center in Seoul on June 1, 2015. South Korean President Park Geun-Hye scolded health officials on June 1, over their response to an outbreak of the MERS virus, as the number of infections climbed to 18, with nearly 700 under observation. Major South Korean hospitals are setting up special MERS clinic rooms to fight the disease. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
South Korean hospital workers carry transport a man in front of a quarantine tent for suspected MERS cases at the Seoul National University Hospital in Seoul on June 2, 2015. South Korea's health ministry confirmed that two people have died from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the country's first fatalities from the virus.AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - JUNE 02: A woman and her young baby wear masks as a precaution against the MERS virus on June 2, 2015 in Seoul, South Korea. The Ministry of Health and Welfare of South Korea confirmed two deaths from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) on June 2, 2015. It reported six new cases of MERS, raising the number of confirmed local patients to 25. The first case was confirmed on May 20. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - JUNE 02: People wear masks as a precaution against the MERS virus on June 2, 2015 in Seoul, South Korea. The Ministry of Health and Welfare of South Korea confirmed two deaths from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) on June 2, 2015. It reported six new cases of MERS, raising the number of confirmed local patients to 25. The first case was confirmed on May 20. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
A man wearing a face mask walks through a market in Seoul on June 1, 2015. South Korean President Park Geun-Hye scolded health officials over their 'insufficient' response to an outbreak of the MERS virus, as the number of infections climbed to 18, with nearly 700 under observation. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
South Korean school workers spray sanitizer on hands of students to protect against possible MERS virus at an elementary school in Seoul on June 3, 2015. South Korea on June 2 reported its first deaths from an outbreak of the MERS virus that has infected 25 people, caused widespread alarm and triggered a closer watch by Asian neighbours on Korean arrivals. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
South Korean school students wear face masks to protect against possible MERS virus at an elementary school in Seoul on June 3, 2015. South Korea on June 2 reported its first deaths from an outbreak of the MERS virus that has infected 25 people, caused widespread alarm and triggered a closer watch by Asian neighbours on Korean arrivals. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
A South Korean school worker sprays sanitizer on hands of students to protect against possible MERS virus at an elementary school in Seoul on June 3, 2015. South Korea on June 2 reported its first deaths from an outbreak of the MERS virus that has infected 25 people, caused widespread alarm and triggered a closer watch by Asian neighbours on Korean arrivals. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - JUNE 02: A hospital worker wearing mask near a quarantine tent for people who could be infected with the MERS virus at Seoul National University Hospital on June 2, 2015 in Seoul, South Korea. The Ministry of Health and Welfare of South Korea confirmed two deaths from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) on June 2, 2015. It reported six new cases of MERS, raising the number of confirmed local patients to 25. The first case was confirmed on May 20. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
South Korean school students put on face masks during a special class on MERS virus at an elementary school in Seoul on June 3, 2015. South Korea on June 2 reported its first deaths from an outbreak of the MERS virus that has infected 25 people, caused widespread alarm and triggered a closer watch by Asian neighbours on Korean arrivals. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - JUNE 02: A hospital worker wearing mask near a quarantine tent for people who could be infected with the MERS virus at Seoul National University Hospital on June 2, 2015 in Seoul, South Korea. The Ministry of Health and Welfare of South Korea confirmed two deaths from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) on June 2, 2015. It reported six new cases of MERS, raising the number of confirmed local patients to 25. The first case was confirmed on May 20. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - JUNE 02: People wear masks as a precaution against the MERS virus on June 2, 2015 in Seoul, South Korea. The Ministry of Health and Welfare of South Korea confirmed two deaths from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) on June 2, 2015. It reported six new cases of MERS, raising the number of confirmed local patients to 25. The first case was confirmed on May 20. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - JUNE 02: Hospital workers wearing masks to protect them from the MERS virus near a quarantine tent for people who could be infected with the MERS virus at Seoul National University Hospital on June 2, 2015 in Seoul, South Korea. The Ministry of Health and Welfare of South Korea confirmed two deaths from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) on June 2, 2015. It reported six new cases of MERS, raising the number of confirmed local patients to 25. The first case was confirmed on May 20. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
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Departing from its earlier policy, the government on Sunday disclosed the names of the 24 hospitals where the MERS patients have been diagnosed or had been treated before their condition was confirmed. This will allow people who have visited those facilities in recent weeks to report themselves if they are showing symptoms similar to MERS-related illnesses, officials said.

The government had earlier refused to reveal the names of those hospitals saying it would cause a disruption in services if people started avoiding them. The disclosure came two days after the government first identified one hospital at the heart of the virus's outbreak in South Korea.

Deputy Prime Minister Choi Kyung-hwan told a news conference Sunday that there was no reason to believe that the virus would significantly spread further in the country.

"So far, all the MERS cases have been hospital-associated, and there has been no case of an infection in other social settings. We think we have a chance at putting the outbreak under total control," Choi said.

The virus has no vaccine, and health experts say it spreads through close contact with infected people and not through the air.

The U.N. health agency has reported that there's no evidence yet in South Korea of "sustained transmission in the community."

Choi said the government will also strengthen its monitoring of the hundreds of undiagnosed patients who are quarantined at their homes because officials believe they might have contracted the virus. It includes tracking their whereabouts through cellphone signals.

MERS was discovered in 2012 and has mostly been centered in Saudi Arabia. It belongs to the family of coronaviruses that includes the common cold and SARS, and can cause fever, breathing problems, pneumonia and kidney failure. The virus has spread primarily through contact with camels, but it can also spread from human fluids and droplets.

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