Wed, Jun 24, 2015 - Page 15 News List

Samsung heir apologizes over MERS in S Korea

BABY BORN:The Yonhap news agency reported that a 39-year-old woman who had recovered from the virus gave birth yesterday at the Samsung Medical Center

AFP, SEOUL

Samsung Electronics Co vice president Jay Lee bows during a news conference at the company’s headquarters in Seoul yesterday to apologize over an outbreak of MERS.

Photo: EPA

The heir to South Korean business giant Samsung Group yesterday publicly bowed his head in apology for one of its flagship hospitals becoming an epicenter of the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) virus, as health officials reported three new cases.

Samsung Medical Center in Seoul has accounted for about half of all 175 confirmed cases of MERS in South Korea, the largest outbreak of the disease outside Saudi Arabia.

“Samsung Medical Center has failed to control the infection and spread of the virus, causing great pain and concern to the people,” Samsung Electronics Co vice chairman Jay Lee said.

“I apologize, with my head bowed,” he said before bowing deeply in front of TV cameras in a live public apology.

He promised to thoroughly overhaul the medical center. Its position as one of the nation’s most prestigious hospitals has been seriously undermined by the outbreak.

“The hospital will take full responsibility for the treatment of the patients and we will make best efforts to prevent any recurrence,” he said in a rare public address.

Lee, who also heads the Samsung foundation, which operates Samsung Medical Center, pledged to actively support the development of a vaccine against the MERS virus.

Lee’s father, Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee, has been bedridden in the hospital for more than a year since suffering a heart attack.

Song Jae-hoon, the head of the Samsung Medical Center, admitted the hospital had failed to tackle the disease at the early stages of its transmission.

“We had shortcomings in initial responses. We are deeply sorry,” Song said after taking over the podium from Lee.

According to the South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare, two of the three new carriers announced yesterday came into contact with the virus at two different hospitals in Seoul, one of which was the Samsung Medical Center. The third case was a family member of another patient.

The ministry said no additional deaths had been caused by the virus.

Of the 175 confirmed cases, 27 have died, 54 have recovered and been released from hospital and 94 are still being treated, of whom 16 are on life-support machines.

About 2,800 people are still under quarantine, down by about a quarter from Monday. The first case was diagnosed in South Korea on May 20.

In other news, a 39-year-old woman who had been infected with the virus and recovered gave birth at the Samsung Medical Center yesterday, Yonhap news agency reported.

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