mers south korea
Workers wearing masks and gloves disinfect the interior of a subway train in GoyangKim Hong-Ji/Reuters

South Korea's Health Ministry said there has been two more deaths from the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers), taking the total number of fatalities to 29, as the government tries to help its economy affected by the Mers outbreak.

There has also been one new case confirmed, with the total now infected with Mers standing at 180. South Korea has been the most affected, outside Saudi Arabia.

The Ministry said 77 people are still in hospital and that most of the deaths have been elderly patients or those who had existing illnesses.

All the Mers cases in South Korea have been traced to healthcare settings, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile AFP reported that two hospitals in the capital city of Seoul have decided to suspend services.

Samsung Medical Centre – one of the epicentres of the outbreak – had initially announced that it was suspending most services for 10 days from 14 June to stem the spread of the virus. Nearly 90 patients, visitors and medical staff from the hospital had contracted the virus.

However, with new infections rising, authorities have decided to extend the partial shutdown "indefinitely," AFP said.

Another Seoul hospital, Konkuk University Medical Centre has also stopped admitting new patients and performing surgery after four cases were reported.

Supplementary budget to boost economy hit by Mers

Separately, South Korea is expected to propose a supplementary budget exceeding $10tn won (£5.73bn, $9bn) to help cope with the effects of Mers and an economic slump, the news agency reported, quoting Saenuri Party floor leader, Yoo Seong-min.

A meeting will be held with government officials on Thursday to discuss the budget and economic policies for the second half of the year. In addition, the finance ministry will release its revised economic forecasts on Thursday as well as its policy direction for the rest of 2015.

South Korea's service industry and overall domestic consumption has taken a heavy toll as residents stay at home over fears of contracting Mers.

Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol had earlier in the day said that the falls in economic indicators linked to Mers are easing, but sluggishness in service industries is expected to persist for a considerable time.

The central bank cut its key interest rate this month in help counter the economic impact of the Mers outbreak.