S. Korea reports first MERS case in three years
A 61-year-old businessman was diagnosed with the highly contagious viral respiratory illness, according to officials at the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
He returned to South Korea Friday from a business trip in Kuwait where he stayed for three weeks, the KCDC said a statement.
"Authorities have traced and separated 20 people who have come in close contact with the infected person," KCDC head Chung Eun-gyeong told journalists.
They include medical staff, flight attendants and passengers of the plane the man flew back to South Korea on, she said.
He was hospitalized with fever and phlegm and has been quarantined at a university hospital, she added.
It is the first case of MERS diagnosed in South Korea since 2015 when an outbreak killed 38 people and triggered widespread panic.
More than 680 in South Korea isolated over MERS virus fears
More than 680 people in South Korea are in isolation after having contact with those infected with a virus that has killed hundreds of people in the Middle East, health officials said Monday.
South Korea has reported 17 cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome since a man tested positive following a trip to Saudi Arabia and became the country's first MERS patient earlier this month. The virus in South Korea has so far been largely limited to those who stayed at the same hospital with the first patient before he was diagnosed, their family members and medical staff who treated the first patient.
South Korean Health Ministry official Kwon Jun-wook told reporters Monday that 682 people who had close contact with the patients, such as their family members and their medical staff, were isolated at their homes or state-run facilities to prevent the spread of the disease.
Ministry officials said the number could rise.
In addition to the 17 cases of MERS in South Korea, the son of one of the patients became China's first case of the virus last week after having traveled to the country despite being told by doctors to cancel his trip.
MERS was discovered in 2012 and has mostly been centered in Saudi Arabia. It belongs to the family of coronaviruses that includes the common cold and SARS and can cause fever, breathing problems, pneumonia, and kidney failure. The virus is thought to be primarily acquired through contact with camels, but it can also spread from human fluids and droplets.
There have been 1,167 cases of the virus worldwide and 479 of the patients have died, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
South Korea confirms three cases of Mideast respiratory virus
The patient shared a hospital room with a man who was South Korea's first confirmed case of MERS, agency chief Yang Byung-Guk told reporters.
The first patient was not isolated initially because it wasn't known why he was ill.
Yang said the first patient had visited Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. His wife also contracted the disease.
All three are being treated in hospitals and they are not in critical condition, according to Yang's agency.
Additionally, 64 hospital workers and family members of the confirmed MERS patients have been quarantined, Yang said.
MERS was discovered in 2012 and has mostly been centered in Saudi Arabia. It belongs to the family of coronaviruses that includes the common cold and SARS and can cause fever, breathing problems, pneumonia, and kidney failure. The virus is thought to be primarily acquired through contact with camels, but it can also spread from human fluids and droplets. A number of cases in Saudi Arabia have involved health workers caring for MERS patients.
There have been a total of 1,142 cases of the virus worldwide and 465 have died, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. Of the fatalities, 428 have been in Saudi Arabia.