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South Korean president praises nurses involved in MERS crisis

South Korean president Park Geun-hye praises nurses' role in caring for people who have contracted MERS as she opens the International Council of Nurses' conference in Seoul

At the opening of the International Council of Nurses conference in Seoul, South Korean president Park Geun-hye praised nurses caring for people who have contracted Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

South Korean president Park Geun-hye makes a congratulatory speech during the opening ceremony of ICN 2015 Seoul.

The president, guest of honour at the event, said South Korea had taken ‘strong measures’ to combat the outbreak and the number of new cases had started to decline.

There has been some criticism that the government was slow to react to the outbreak, but the president received thunderous applause from delegates, assembled nurses and students at the former Olympic gymnastics arena today. She pledged more investment for fighting infectious diseases, but pointed out that international collaboration was needed.

A total of 22 people have died and 166 people have been infected.

Park Geun-hye added that nurses had a key role to play in improving global health.

‘Nurses’ roles will grow and grow,’ she said.

The opening ceremony got off to a colourful start with representatives from countries including Kuwait, Iran, Nigeria, Russia and the United States parading in national costumes.

The UK has delegates and conference speakers at the annual conference, but it was not represented in the parade because the RCN pulled out of the ICN two years ago in a dispute over funding.

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