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Embassy of the United States Seoul, South Korea June 12, 2015 - Update on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)

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  • Embassy of the United States Seoul, South Korea June 12, 2015 - Update on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)

    Current MERS control efforts are focusing on individuals who visited one of 63 health care facilities after May 15. The updated complete list of 63 facilities, based on information from the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and periods that the facilities may have been exposed to MERS, may be found at:

    U.S. citizens who visited one of the 63 medical facilities after May 15 (during periods the hospital was possibly exposed to MERS) will be required to submit to self-quarantine for a period from ten to fifteen days. The quarantine period is counted from the day of the visit to the hospital, and is being monitored by local officials. There is a monetary fine for non-compliance with the quarantine. In addition, there is an exit ban imposed for travel outside of the Republic of Korea during the quarantine period.

    If you visited one of these medical facilities after May 15, immediately contact one of these area call centers: Seoul City (120), Daejeon City (042-120), or Gyeonggi-do Province (031-120). The previously established CDC Korea MERS hotline (043-719-7777 and toll free 109) also remains open for reporting. Limited English language assistance is available on the hotlines.

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a Travel Notice Watch - Level 1 for the Republic of Korea, which means to ?practice usual precautions.? The CDC is not recommending any change in travel plans to the Republic of Korea at the present time.

    To minimize exposure, individuals should avoid unnecessary visits to hospitals, particularly emergency rooms. In general, large university-based hospitals in the Republic of Korea have implemented more robust hygiene programs. Risk of exposure is reduced by using outpatient services for non-emergency care, rather than going to an emergency room for treatment of mild acute issues. U.S. citizens may wish to consider the listing of hospitals possibly exposed to MERS patients when deciding on a health care provider.

    The CDC travelers? health notice ?MERS in the Republic of Korea? can be seen at The CDC notice categorizes Korea as in Watch - Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions.

    The following measures are recommended to protect yourself from MERS:
    - Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    - Use an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
    - Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and throw the used tissue in the trash. Do not reuse tissues.
    - Clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces, such as doorknobs, light switches, handrails, or toys.
    - Avoid close contact, such as kissing or sharing eating utensils, with sick individuals.
    - Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

    The U.S. Embassy in Seoul continues to monitor developments related to MERS in Korea. This message and any updates will be posted to the U.S. Citizen Services section of the Embassy website at