More than six months after the first confirmed case of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in Thailand, health officials in the country have confirmed on Sunday, Jan. 24, its second case of the virus.
The country's Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn said that the MERS virus was detected in a 71-year-old Omani man who was travelling to Bangkok on Jan. 22.
The patient is being quarantined at the Department of Disease Control's Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute. His condition is stable, and he is on a respiratory machine.
The Disease Control Department is currently in search of 37 other people who had direct contact with the Omani man. These include 13 Thais - a taxi driver, the medical staff and the hotel staff - who will have to be monitored for any signs of possible infection for at least two weeks.
The health minister said the Omani's children are also being quarantined at the institute.
The first confirmed case of MERS in Thailand was reported in June last year. The virus was detected in a 75-year-old businessman from Oman who travelled to Thailand. The patient was later treated, declared MERS-free, and was given permission to leave Thailand. The disease did not spread to others, officials said.
The MERS virus first broke out in Saudi Arabia about four years ago. The virus, a member of the coronaviruses that triggered the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in China in 2003, has infected more than 1,000 people as of June 2015.
Aside from Thailand, South Korea had reported a MERS outbreak in May last year. The virus was first detected in a 68-year-old man who had been to Bahrain, passed through Qatar and travelled back to South Korea. He was treated for cough and high fever.
Weeks after, South Korea had to suspend classes due to the MERS outbreak. The country held the record for the biggest MERS outbreak with 186 people infected, 36 dead and more than 6,700 quarantined.
On July 28, South Korea announced that the MERS outbreak had finally ended in the country after two months.
The symptoms for MERS include cough, fever, and shortness of breath. Some exhibit gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and nausea, experts said. Many of those who succumbed to the MERS virus were already suffering from medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, chronic heart disease, chronic lung disease and chronic kidney disease.
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