South Korea: No new MERS cases for first time in 16 days
SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea on Saturday, June 20, said that there had been no new cases of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (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 remained unchanged at 24, while confirmed cases were stable at 166 over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said.
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 Saturday, leaving some 5,200 people in quarantine.
The ministry on Friday, June 19, 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.
One of those who had recovered was 37-year-old doctor Park Kyu-Tae, who contracted the virus at Samsung Medical Center – one of the epicenters of the outbreak – on May 27.
He fully recovered from the disease and returned home on Thursday, June 18, 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.
Stringent measures in Thailand
In Thailand, which 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 thermoscan machines to detect and isolate passengers arriving with a fever, one of the symptoms of MERS, said a health ministry statementon Saturday.
It has also set up counters offering passengers alcoholic gel disinfectant and free surgical masks.
The Omani man, 75, found to have MERS in Thailand was "slightly better," a health ministry spokesman told Agence France-Presse, 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 Friday for his 3 accompanying relatives, quarantined at the same hospital, were negative for two and "inconclusive" for the third. – Rappler.com