SOUTH KOREA — South Korea on Wednesday blamed a surge in the number of cases of Zika virus in the country and blamed the government for a slow response.
The World Health Organization said there were 8,566 confirmed Zika infections and more than 1,200 deaths in South Korea, most in the cities of Seoul and Busan.
Zika was first identified in South Africa in May and has spread to several countries including Brazil, which is currently experiencing its worst outbreak of the virus since 2000.
“This virus has spread rapidly across South Korea.
The government has been slow to take measures to contain the spread and has not been able to protect the public, a source from the Ministry of Health told reporters.
This situation is worrying for the public,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.
South Korean authorities have not released any new figures on the number or locations of infections, but the government has said there are at least 15,000 cases of the infection.
In an email, the ministry said the government “will take all necessary measures to prevent any spread of Zika and that we are cooperating closely with the WHO.”
The virus was first detected in South America in late August, when a small number of people were infected.
The virus is also believed to have been transmitted to China, and there have been reports of the mosquito-borne virus spreading from Brazil to the Philippines and into the United States.
Since then, South Korea has recorded a total of 2,818 cases of infection, including 4,838 confirmed cases.
Of the 3,971 confirmed Zika cases in South Koreans, 2,917 have been in the last two weeks, according to the WHO.
Meanwhile, the government said Thursday that it has stopped the importation of goods from Brazil.
On Tuesday, the South Korean government said it would ban imports of Brazilian goods, including cosmetics, toothpaste, baby formula, toilet paper, and cosmetics, until further notice.
According to South Korean customs records, the country’s largest export to Brazil is toilet paper worth about 4 trillion won ($3.9 billion), followed by baby formula worth about 1.9 trillion won.