from the nothing-funny-about-MERS dept.
Health officials announced Wednesday [3 June] that five more people had been diagnosed, bringing the total infected with the virus to 30. Two patients have died. That makes the outbreak the largest outside the Arabian Peninsula, where the disease emerged in 2012. The virus, which primarily causes flu-like symptoms such as fever and cough, kills an estimated three to four out of every 10 patients infected.
The situation in South Korea has alarmed the global health community because the virus has spread so fast and wide from a single individual. Other countries have imported cases in the same manner but the virus infected only a few others.
How did MERS get to South Korea and why is it spreading so fast?
The first known case, called an "index" case, was reported on May 20. It involved a 68-year-old man who was returning from a 16-day business trip to four Middle Eastern countries. The man was asymptomatic during his return flight but was subsequently treated at two different out-patient clinics and two hospitals which created a lot of opportunities for the virus to spread. Health care workers did not suspect the man of having MERS so he was not put in isolation.
Others who have been infected include health care workers, other patients, family members and visitors. The World Health Organization reported that some of the cases were patients in the same room or ward as the man, and that their exposure may have been from 5 minutes to a few hours.
Two recent cases represent an alarming development — a third generation of transmission. That is, a patient who did not have contact with the index patient but came into contact with an intermediary who had been exposed to the virus. "That raised fears that infections could now spread exponentially from all people who test positive," Korea's JoongAng Daily reported.
A sixth person has died after contracting Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) in South Korea, amid a sharp rise in infections.
More than 23 people were confirmed to have contracted the disease on Sunday, bringing the total to 87, health officials say.
[...] About 2,300 people have been placed under quarantine and nearly 1,900 schools have been closed.
Book your flights and hotels as deals become available:
Thailand has quarantined 32 people as it seeks to prevent the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) after a second case of the virus was detected on Friday, a health ministry official said on Monday.
The virus was found in a 71-year-old Omani man traveling to Bangkok. His son, taxi drivers, hotel staff and passengers on the same plane are among those quarantined for two weeks, Amnuay Gajeena, director-general of Thailand's Disease Control Department, told reporters. Another eight have been identified and will also be quarantined, he said.
[...] Thailand's tourism industry would not be affected by the latest MERS case, Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul told Reuters. "We think we have the situation under control," she said. "We're confident this will not affect tourism in Thailand." Tourism accounts for 10 percent of GDP, and Thailand expects a record number of international visitors in 2016 - some 32 million, up from 29.88 million in 2015.
The World Health Organization said in its latest update on Jan. 7 it has been notified of 1,626 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS from 26 countries, and at least 586 related deaths. MERS is caused by a coronavirus from the same family as the one that triggered China's deadly 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Previously: MERS Outbreak and Quarantines in South Korea