SEOUL (AFP) - South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo Ahn on Tuesday declared that the deadly outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) was over, Yonhap news agency reported.
Thirty-six people died out of the 186 infected in the Mers outbreak, the biggest of the virus outside Saudi Arabia, following the first diagnosis on May 20.
“After weighing various circumstances, the medical personnel and the government judge that the people can now be free from worry,” Hwang said in a meeting with government officials, Yonhap reported.
“I ask the public to shake off all concerns over Mers and to resume normal daily activities, including economic, cultural, leisure and school activities,” he added.
The outbreak has taken a toll on Asia’s fourth largest economy, stifling consumer spending.
Local businesses including shopping malls, restaurants and cinemas reported a sharp drop in sales as people shunned public venues with large crowds.
The government recently announced a 22 trillion won (S$26 billion) stimulus package, much of which was aimed at supporting businesses hurt by the Mers crisis.
The tourism industry was hit particularly hard, with the number of foreign visitors plunging by over 40 per cent in June compared to a year ago, and a further 60 per cent in the first two weeks of July.
Seoul plans to spend up to 30 billion won on campaigns to lure back travellers including free promotional tours and large concerts by big-name K-pop stars, vice-tourism minister Kim Chong told foreign reporters last week.