Mers in Thailand: First case of virus confirmed

A 75-year-old man from Oman, who travelled to Bangkok on Monday, is infected with the virus

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The Independent Online

The first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) has been confirmed in Thailand.

A 75-year-old man from Oman, who arrived in Bangkok on Monday to be treated for a heart problem, was confirmed to be infected with the virus yesterday.

Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok announced today that the man was treated there.

Reuters reported that a doctor from the hospital told a news conference: “The patient came to us tired, coughing… there was no fever. So we x-rayed his chest… we found that he could have two things, a heart condition or the Mers virus.”

Rajata Rajatanavin, Thailand’s Public Health Minister, said yesterday the patient had been quarantined at an infectious disease institute in Bangkok.

But he told Reuters it had taken “about four days to diagnose the case and two lab tests”.

Nearly 60 people who came into contact with the man, including three relatives who travelled with him on the plane, have been identified, the BBC reported.

“We advise the public not to panic because the patient and his family members were separated since the beginning. Our system is ready and we are monitoring the cases closely,” said the minister.

Thailand is now the fourth Asian country to register a case of Mers.

The outbreak of Mers began in South Korea in May, after a 68-year man travelled to the Middle East.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed 166 cases of the virus, including one in China, and 24 fatalities as a result.

On Monday, the WHO said “the number of new cases occurring each day… appears to be declining”.

Reuters reported the number of people in quarantine in South Korea was down 12 per cent to just under 6,000. Speaking at a briefing in Seoul, Kwan Deok-cheol, South Korea’s health ministry’s chief policy officer, said: “Given the current development, we have judged that [Mers] has [levelled] off, but we need to watch further spread, further cases from so-called intensive control hospitals.”