Story highlights

South Korea has 108 cases of MERS and nine deaths

Ten people released from quarantine in Hong Kong and Guangzhou

Hong Kong issues travel advice to avoid unnecessary travel to South Korea

Seoul, South Korea CNN  — 

South Korea is grappling with two battles: the virus itself and the public fear over MERS, one official declared.

The nation has been struck by the largest outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome outside Saudi Arabia, where the virus was discovered.

And the number of cases grows every day. On Tuesday, South Korea reported that a ninth person had died from MERS and another 13 had contracted the virus, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 108.

Fears of MERS in South Korea are growing by the day, with more than 2,300 people quarantined as the country grapples with the outbreak.

Mainly older patients

The virus has struck mainly adults, with the exception of one 16-year-old boy. And the MERS deaths have been among older adults with pre-existing conditions.

Steps to prevent MERS

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then dispose of the tissue.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid personal contact, such as kissing, or sharing cups or eating utensils, with sick people.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as doorknobs.

  • Source: CDC

    MERS spreads from close contact with an ill person, such as living with or caring for them, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Far from alone

    The South Korean outbreak had its first case on May 20. The vast majority of the cases are hospital clusters, and the deaths were among people with pre-existing health conditions.

    Experts from the World Health Organization who have dealt with MERS are coming to South Korea to assess the pattern of the virus spread and to look at public health response efforts.

    5 things to know about MERS

    The latest outbreak prompted Hong Kong to issue a travel alert asking residents to avoid unnecessary travel to South Korea.

    In Hong Kong on Tuesday, six Koreans were released from quarantine, having passed the 14 day incubation period and tested negative. All six had been on the same airplane flight on May 26.

    Also Tuesday, in Guangzhou, in south China, four Koreans from that same flight to Hong Kong, were released from quarantine. Another four people, who attended a conference with someone who had MERS, are scheduled to be released on Wednesday.

    But South Korea is far from alone in the battle. As of Wednesday, 1,179 cases of MERS have been confirmed in 25 countries, WHO said. Two of those cases were in the United States – both were health workers who lived in Saudi Arabia.

    Two of the cases occurred in the United States in May 2014. Both were health workers who lived in Saudi Arabia.

    CNN’s Madison Park contributed to this report.