South Korea records latest death from SARS, with 233 cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome

South Korea has now recorded 233 cases of acute respiratory syndrome (ARS) over the past 10 days and 119 of those people have died since the virus was first identified, health authorities said on Thursday.

Authorities recorded the latest deaths as a result of respiratory failure on Monday and another patient on Wednesday.

The daily number of new deaths has surged past a record 83 reported in August this year when the Asian nation was hit by the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The latest death is a one-year-old baby and the 57 new cases are five shy of the previous record for a single day.

“People with no obvious health issues have become infected, a situation that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) have long cautioned against, causing the virus to spread swiftly,” Seoul’s biopharmaceutical commission said in a statement.

Experts have also said it is too early to raise alert levels because, so far, the death rate is below 10 percent and cases have been concentrated among patients with severe and underlying health problems.

“Identifying a patient with RSV (Reptilica respiratory syncytial virus) is tricky since it is an uncommon virus, and their symptoms may be mild or the pneumonia may not be present at all,” said a doctor at Seoul National University Hospital who declined to be named.

“The strain is often the one or two kinds of RSV that are around in a country and are known to be associated with respiratory disease in infants. An unvaccinated person may catch the virus from family members who haven’t been vaccinated against the disease.”

According to one of the few studies done on the virus, as few as five percent of people with severe RSV survive because the virus attacks the organs and lungs of people with weakened immune systems.

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