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South Korea: We're free from MERS. WHO: No, you're not

Staff writer |
South Korea's Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn has declared a "de facto end" to the outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Virus (MERS).

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Hwang said that as there had been no new infections for 23 days, the public "can now be free from worry".

He also apologised for the government's much-criticised response to the virus, which has killed 36 people in South Korea, Yonhap news agency reports.

But the WHO said it was not yet declaring Mers officially over. A spokeswoman in Manila said the World Health Organisation required 28 days without a new infection to make the announcement - twice the incubation period of the virus. The last case was confirmed in South Korea on 4 July.

South Korean Health Ministry official Kwon Duk-cheol said precautions, including screening at airports, would remain in place "until the situation comes to a formal end", AFP news agency reports.

"We still have many arrivals from the Middle East so there is always a possibility that new patients can come in," he added.

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