Amid the scorching heat with daytime highs reaching almost 40 degrees Celsius recently, the number of people suffering from heat-related illnesses hit 1,043 between May 20 and July 21, the health authorities said. The figure is a 61 percent jump from 397 a year earlier.
According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), 556 cases out of the total 1,043 illnesses were reported during the last week between Sunday and Saturday, indicating that heat-related illnesses are steeply rising in recent days.
A total of 10 people lost their lives due to the hot weather between May 20 and July 21, and seven out of the 10 died last week.
Among the 10, five were women aged about 80, and they died while they were working in and around their houses. Two of them were less than 10 years old. Another two died at an outdoor working site and home, respectively.
The most common symptoms of heat-related illnesses included heat exhaustion (52.3 percent), heatstroke (25.1 percent), heat cramps (11.8 percent), and heat syncope (7.5 percent). Illnesses caused by the hot weather mostly occurred at outdoor working sites (292 people), rice paddies and fields (162 people). They also took place on streets and parks (420 people, 40.3 percent), and indoor (169 people, 16.2 percent).
Half of the heat-related illnesses, or 541 cases, took place between 12 a.m. and 17 p.m. Other 101 cases occurred between 17 p.m. and 18 p.m.
By region, South Gyeongsang Province had the most patients (165 people) suffering a medical condition due to the heat exposure, followed by Gyeonggi Province with 125 patients, and North Gyeongsang Province with 116 patients.
By sex, males accounted for 78.4 percent (818 people) of the patients with heat-related illnesses. By age group, those at aged 65 or more took up 28.4 percent (296 people) of the total, and those in their 50s, 21.8 percent (227 people).
The KDCD raised alert to prevent heat-related illnesses, citing the rapid increase in heat-related illnesses last week and the weather forecast for a continued hot weather.
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