South Korea yesterday said that there had been no new cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) reported for the first time in 16 days, raising hopes that the nation is winning the battle to contain the deadly virus.
The number of fatalities also remained unchanged at 24, while confirmed cases were stable at 166 over the previous 24 hours, the South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare said.
Six more patients had recovered and were released from hospitals, cutting to 106 the number now undergoing treatment, while restrictions on more than 700 people were lifted yesterday, leaving about 5,200 people quarantined.
The ministry on Friday reported one new case, the lowest rate of new infections in two weeks, saying that the outbreak appears to have started subsiding, since the first case was diagnosed on May 20.
One who had recovered is 37-year-old physician Park Kyu-tae, who contracted the virus at Samsung Medical Center — one of the epicenters of the outbreak — on May 27.
He fully recovered and returned home on Thursday, just 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.
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.
Bangkok’s main airport has installed additional heat-scanning machines to detect and isolate passengers who arrive with a fever, a symptom of MERS, a Thai Ministry of Public Health statement said.
It has also set up counters offering passengers alcoholic gel disinfectant and free face masks.
The Omani man, 75, found to have MERS in Thailand was “slightly better,” a Thai health ministry spokesman told reporters, while no new cases have been confirmed.
The patient 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.
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