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SEOUL, June 18. /TASS/. About 120,000 foreign tourists have canceled their visits to South Korea over an outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), the Korea Tourism Organization said on Thursday.
According to the organization’s statistics, the number of foreigners arriving in South Korea dropped by 20% in the first ten days of June compared with the same period last year. Losses of the republic’s travel sector are estimated at eleven million U.S. dollars.
Two Korea’s biggest air carriers, Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, have reported a dramatic slump in ticket sales. Korean Air said it was about to cancel flights to 17 destinations in China. Asiana Airlines has already cancelled 52 flights scheduled for June.
The death toll from MERS coronavirus in South Korea has reached 23. The number of MERS patients stands at 165. More than 6,000 people have been placed under home quarantine.
The first MERS case in South Korea was registered on May 20.
Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory infection caused by the newly identified MERS-coronavirus (MERS-CoV) that is new to humans. It was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and has since spread to other countries, including Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France - 23 in all, where more than 1,100 MERS cases have been officially registered, of which 40% ended in patients’ deaths.
Most MERS-CoV patients develop severe acute respiratory illness, including fever, cough, and trouble breathing. About 3-4 out of every 10 MERS patients die. MERS-CoV is spread through close contact.