South Korea reports no new MERS infections

Absence of new cases for first time in 16 days lifts hopes as confirmed cases also stabilise at 166 over past 24 hours.

MERS oubreak in Thailand
Authorities in Thailand have stepped up measures after reporting its first MERS case on Thursday [AP]

South Korea says there has been no new cases of MERS reported for the first time in 16 days, raising hopes the country is winning the battle to contain the deadly virus.

The number of fatalities also remains unchanged at 24, while confirmed cases have been stable at 166 over the past 24 hours, the health ministry says.

Six more patients had recovered and were released from hospital, cutting to 106 the number now undergoing treatment, while restrictions on more than 700 people were lifted on Saturday, leaving about 5,200 people in quarantine.

The ministry on Friday reported one new case, the lowest rate of new infections in two weeks, saying the outbreak appeared to have started subsiding since the first case was diagnosed on May 20.

The latest MERS figures have raised hopes that South Korea is winning the battle to contain the deadly virus [AP]
The latest MERS figures have raised hopes that South Korea is winning the battle to contain the deadly virus [AP]

One of those who had recovered was 37-year-old doctor Park Kyu-tae, who contracted the virus at Samsung Medical Centre – one of the epicentres of the outbreak – on May 27.

He fully recovered from the disease and returned home on Thursday, only a week after he was diagnosed.

Park caught the virus while working in the hospital’s emergency room, which had been contaminated by a “super spreader” of the virus, the JoongAng Ilbo daily reported.

MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, was first identified in Saudi Arabia.

Thermoscan machines

In Thailand, which on Thursday reported Southeast Asia’s first case of MERS since the deadly virus was confirmed in South Korea, authorities stepped up measures to contain the outbreak.

A total of 175 people were exposed and the patient’s condition has improved, the health ministry said on Saturday.

The ministry said it had been in touch with all 175 and had instructed them to stay away from public spaces and for medical personnel to monitor their health.

Bangkok’s main airport has installed additional thermoscan machines to detect and isolate passengers arriving with a fever, one of the symptoms of MERS, the health ministry said.

It has also set up counters offering passengers alcoholic gel disinfectant and free surgical masks.

An Omani man, 75, found to have MERS in Thailand was “slightly better”, a health ministry spokesman told AFP, while no new cases have been confirmed.

He is in a hospital on the outskirts of Bangkok where he was transferred after arriving earlier in the week for treatment for a heart condition.

Test results on Friday for his three accompanying relatives, quarantined at the same hospital, were negative for two and “inconclusive” for the third.

Source: News Agencies