South Korean man infected by Mers virus, first case in 3 years

Desiree Burns
September 11, 2018

Since the patient's official diagnosis, two Korean nationals now staying in Kuwait have been tested for MERS at a hospital there.

Government officials hold an emergency meeting to discuss ways to prevent the spread of the MERS virus on September 9, 2018.

Some 20 individuals believed to have been in close contact with the patient - including flight attendants, medical doctors and airport employees - have been quarantined and are not allowed to leave the country until further notice.

It has been reported that the patient requested a wheelchair when he got off the plane, as he was feeling too unwell to walk.

The city government also found that, although the patient's wife had driven to the airport, he immediately chose to rush to the Samsung Medical Center's emergency room in a taxi. He was at the hospital's public area for some two hours, according to the authorities.

The patient was officially diagnosed with MERS the next day, and was moved to an isolation ward at Seoul National University Hospital.

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The South Korean Minister of Health and Welfare said that Korean residents in Kuwait who have been in physical contact with the patient will be investigated, and that Seoul is working with the government of Kuwait, to take safety measures if anyone shows symptoms of MERS. "This time the people on the same flight will be under active monitoring".

The case has been headline news in South Korea, which was swept by the disease in 2015. Nearly 3,000 schools were shut down in the month of June alone, and more than 125,000 foreign tourists cancelled plans to travel to South Korea, dealing a major blow to the domestic travel industry.

Typical MERS symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath and diarrhea.

The first MERS case was recorded in Saudi Arabia and has since spread to other countries. Approximately 35 percent of reported patients with MERS have died.

In 2016, Ilyang Pharmaceutical's experimental MERS virus treatment was selected as a state-backed research project, but the process is still considered to be in the early stage, they said. Treatment is only supportive and based on the patient's clinical condition.

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