S. Korean health minister replaced by doctor after MERS



South Korea's Minister of Health and Welfare Moon Hyung-pyo was replaced Tuesday by a veteran doctor after the outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the president office said.

Presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook told a press briefing that President Park Geun-hye nominated Jeong Jin-yeop, a doctor at Seoul National University Hospital in Bundang, Gyeonggi province, as a new health minister.

Jeong had served as a doctor at the university hospital for 25 years.

The spokesman said the newly-appointed minister is qualifies to strengthen public medical services and stabilize public health given his long experience as doctor and deep understanding of the country's medical system.

The replacement came as the MERS outbreak infected 186 people, among whom 36 died, after the first case was reported on May 20. The government declared the de-facto end of the viral disease last week as no new case has been reported for more than four weeks.

Moon, former health minister known as an expert on public pension, was harshly criticized for the initial bungling of response to the viral disease spread.

Kim Hyun-sook of the ruling Saenuri Party was named as senior presidential secretary for health and welfare affairs. She is known as an expert on taxation and welfare policy.

President Park would issue a statement to the public Thursday to explain her second-half scheme for state affairs, the spokesman added.