TILL DEATH DO US PART

“Joke” viral photo highlights just how serious the MERS scare is in South Korea

A spoof photo of a wedding party in South Korea that went viral on the country’s social media sites shows just how scary its Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) health crisis has become.

The image, taken on June 6 in Seoul as the health crisis deepened, depicts a young bride and groom sharing their matrimonial joy with family and friends, with nearly all covered in white masks. The couple’s wedding planner told the AFP the photo was taken as a joke, and that the subjects had attended the wedding without masks and already shot the photo without them.

The country has thus far reported seven fatalities, nearly a hundred confirmed cases, and more than 2,800 quarantined. In addition to disrupting daily life—more than 2,000 schools remain closed—the situation is straining an already weak economy.

The World Health Organization, which recently sent a team Seoul to collect more information, has yet to issue any trade or travel restrictions. But Hong Kong announced a red alert (its second highest warning) against non-essential travel to South Korea, and authorities in Taipei announced that tickets to South Korea on Taiwanese airlines could be canceled and refunded before June 12.

Incheon International Airport near Seoul screened passengers using thermal imaging cameras:

Passengers wearing masks to prevent contracting Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) walk past a thermal imaging camera at Incheon International Airport in Incheon
Passengers walk past a thermal imaging camera at Incheon International Airport. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

Many buildings in Seoul have installed such equipment, too:

South Korea MERS Virus
Thermal camera monitors show the body temperature of visitors. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

People across Seoul have been wearing face masks, including these visitors from China:

South Korea MERS Virus
In Seoul, Chinese tourists wore masks as a precaution against MERS. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

And this couple using a selfie stick:

South Korea MERS Facts and Fears
A couple at Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

And these subway passengers:

Passengers wearing masks to prevent contracting Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) sit inside a train in Seoul
Rail passengers in Seoul. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

Students, at least in cases where school wasn’t closed, also wore the masks:

Elementary school students wearing masks to prevent contracting Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) wait in a line outside their classroom at an elementary school in Seoul
Students wait in a line outside their classroom at an elementary school in Seoul. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

Many public places—theaters, markets, restaurants—were emptier than usual. Not many showed up to watch this baseball game, for instance:

South Korean authorities named 24 hospitals affected by MERS after criticized for not sharing such information more quickly. This hospital in Seoul set up a quarantine area:

Hospital workers stand in front of a quarantine area set up at a hospital in Seoul
Workers stand in front of a quarantine area set up at a hospital in Seoul. (REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji)

 

 

 

home our picks popular latest obsessions search