Sixth MERS death confirmed in South Korea

Jun 08, 2015, 4:46 AM EDT
Commuters wearing face masks walk through Seoul Station in Seoul, South Korea, on Monday, June 8, 2015.
AFP/Getty Images

A sixth person has died after contracting Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) in South Korea, amid a sharp rise in infections, the BBC reports.

More than 23 people were confirmed to have contracted the disease on Sunday, bringing the total to 87, health officials say.

It is the biggest outbreak of Mers outside the Middle East. About 2,300 people have been placed under quarantine and nearly 1,900 schools have been closed. On Monday morning, a man in his 80s became the latest person to die of Mers-related illness in Daejeon, about 140km (87 miles) south of Seoul.

On Saturday a 75-year-old man died after contracting the virus. He had been in a Seoul hospital alongside other sufferers when he became ill.

Seventeen of the 23 new cases were infected at the Samsung Medical Centre in Seoul, the health ministry said. All the infections so far have been confined to hospitals with transmission occurring between patients, staff and their families in close contact.

Health officials have released the names of the 24 hospitals - mainly in Seoul and the province of Gyeonggi - involved in the outbreak.

The first Mers case in South Korea was a man who became infected during a business trip to Saudi Arabia, where the disease was first identified three years ago.

Medical authorities have been criticised for the way they have handled the outbreak.