Hong Kong authorities said on Tuesday they were issuing a "red alert" against non-essential travel to South Korea, where seven people have died in an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome that began last month.

Hong Kong's number two official, Carrie Lam, told reporters before a meeting of the city's Executive Council that the red alert would be issued by the Security Bureau.

A red alert is defined as a "significant threat" according to the Hong Kong government, and means people should "adjust travel plans" and "avoid non-essential travel".

South Korea's health ministry said on Tuesday there were eight new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), bringing the total to 95 but representing a sharp fall in the number of daily new cases from 23 reported a day earlier.