Report says 2 South Koreans lied about MERS to take a break from work

06/12/2015 02:55 EDT | Updated 06/11/2016 05:59 EDT
SEOUL, South Korea - Two South Korean women are in trouble with authorities after being caught lying about MERS to get time off work.

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported Friday that police charged a 20-year-old saleswoman at a department store for spreading a rumour online that it was hiding an outbreak of MERS among staff. Her boyfriend was charged for helping her post the rumour on Facebook via another user.

The woman, who lives in Incheon near Seoul, told police that she began the rumour hoping the store would close and she could take time off. The Facebook post was taken down after it prompted a complaint by the department store.

More than 120 people in South Korea have contracted MERS and 11 have died since the country reported its first case last month. The outbreak has been contained within hospitals but it has caused widespread fears and rumours. Nearly 3,000 schools and kindergartens remained closed Friday and more than 3,000 people are quarantined at home after possible contact with MERS patients.

Another woman living in central Seoul was off work for two days when her employer sent her a text message. A person who identified himself as her husband replied that she was asleep at a hospital after testing positive for MERS.

Yonhap said police and health workers found the woman at her home after being called by her employer. She wasn't exhibiting any symptoms of MERS, such as fever or cough.

She told authorities that she did not want to go to work.

Among nations in the OECD rich club, South Koreans have the second-longest working hours behind Mexico.