MERS Outbreak Hurts South Korea’s Economy

July 30, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. susceptible / səˈsɛp tə bəl / (adj.) – prone or at risk of getting affected by something
Example: The recession makes small businesses susceptible to bankruptcy.

2. outbreak / ˈaʊtˌbreɪk / (n.) – a sudden spread of a disease
Example: Many people were hospitalized because of the dengue outbreak.

3. heighten / ˈhaɪt n / (v.) – to intensify or to increase the extent of something
Example: The campaign helped heighten my awareness about malaria.

4. quarantine / ˈkwɔr ənˌtin / (n.) – the time when an animal or a person is kept in a confined area for having an infectious disease
Example: All patients are now under quarantine.

5. pace / peɪs / (n.) – how fast or slow something happens
Example: The number of patients is decreasing at a very slow pace.


Read the text below.
The spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in South Korea has affected the country’s economy.

MERS, a respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus, was first recorded in Saudi Arabia in 2012. It first hit South Korea in May this year, when an infected 68-year-old man came back from a trip to Saudi Arabia. People with weak immune systems are susceptible to this disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated.

The Bank of Korea is concerned about how this viral respiratory illness has affected South Korea’s economy, the fourth largest economy in Asia. The outbreak of MERS in the country has resulted in a decline in exports, as well as slower business and consumer spending.

Restaurants also have fewer customers because of the outbreak, while stores and retailers experience lower sales. The MERS outbreak has also greatly affected South Korea’s tourism, with more than 100,000 visitors canceling their trips to the country as of the first week of June. This epidemic also forced South Korea to temporarily shut down more than 1,000 schools and heighten airport security.  

In June, there were already 15 deaths caused by MERS in South Korea. More than 145 people were diagnosed with the disease, while almost 5,000 people were under quarantine. The WHO warned that more cases will be recorded in the coming days, as the outbreak is spreading at a fast pace.

Despite this, South Korean president Park Geun-hye [GOON-he] urges businesses to keep all investment and production activities running. This is to guarantee that consumer spending will continue, thus ensuring the circulation of money in the country.

[UPDATE]: The South Korean government has declared that the MERS outbreak is over.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Aside from those mentioned in the article, how else do you think the MERS outbreak can affect South Korea?
·         What else can South Korea do to prevent this outbreak from affecting its economy?

Discussion B

·         Do you think South Korea will be able to improve its economy after the MERS outbreak has ended? Why or why not?
·         How can outbreaks be prevented?

July 30, 2015