Patients suffering from thermal illnesses is increasing due to the continuous heatwave and the medical community stressed that the current situation is a public health crisis like the recent MERS outbreak.
The number of thermal illness patients marked 3,329 from May 20 to June 5 and 39 among them died, according to Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of patients increased by over twofold (1,230 last year) and the number of deaths by 5.7 times (7 last year) compared to the same period last year.
The Korean Society for Preventive Medicine and the Korean Society of Epidemiology voiced that the damage caused by the heatwave should be considered as a public health crisis.
“The health-related consequences of the heat wave this year should be recognized as a public health crisis like the 2015 MERS outbreak in which 38 died. The government should come up with urgent measures. There is no time to waste,” the societies said in a joint statement on Monday.
They suggested that the heatwave should be classified as a natural disaster and that a tentatively named “National Integrated Heatwave Health Information System” should be established.
“The central government should cooperate with local governments to carry out urgent relief activities to transfer people suffering from the heat to a shelter in which they can also rest during the night time,” the joint statement said.
“Emergency orders should be exercised to implement effective health protection measures those who need to work outdoors for a long time, such as construction workers, subcontractors and daily workers.”
The joint statement also urged the parliament to quickly open a special session to pass a revision bill of the Disaster Safety Law to include the heatwave as a natural disaster in order to prepare a legal basis for the urgent relief activities.
“If the people and the government begin to consider the current situation as a public health crisis, the health damage caused by this severe heatwave will minimize,” the statement said.
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