In one sign of a possible return to normalcy, thousands of schools across South Korea re-opened on Monday after closures due to the deadly MERS outbreak.

But it came with heightened awareness; children’s temperatures were monitored in classrooms and teachers warned students to practice personal hygiene and frequently wash their hands.

Not all schools have reopened; 440 remain shut as officials seek to stop the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

The World Health Organization had recommended re-opening institutions last week because transmission of the virus had not been linked to schools.

16 now dead in South Korea

Nearly four weeks into the South Korean outbreak, cases and deaths continued to mount on Monday.

Five new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome have been confirmed in South Korea, bringing the total to 150. Another person also died from the virus, raising the MERS death toll to 16, according to the country’s Ministry of Health.

The outbreak has sparked international concern, stalled the nation’s economy and resulted in over 100,000 canceled tourist visits to the country. Korea’s department store sales tumbled 16.5% compared with the same period last year and retail shops also decreased 3.4%, according to the Ministry of Strategy and Finance.

The ongoing situation has put Korean authorities under scrutiny for their inability to contain MERS cases and President Park Geun-hye has seen her approval ratings plummet.


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