Thailand Confirms Middle East Tourist Tests Positive for MERS

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Thailand’s health ministry confirmed that a Middle Eastern tourist seeking treatment at a Bangkok hospital has tested positive for Middle East respiratory syndrome, the nation’s first case of the virus.

The 75-year-old man traveled to Thailand for treatment of heart disease at an unnamed private hospital on June 15, Health Minister Rajata Rajatanavin told reporters Thursday in Nonthaburi province outside Bangkok. The hospital has been co-ordinating with the Health Ministry after the man showed suspicious symptoms, including coughing, Rajata said.

The man was then transferred to Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute, a hospital under the Ministry of Health, and kept in a private room, Rajata said. He was traveling with three people who have also been isolated in private rooms at the same hospital. Rajata said a further 59 people are being monitored at home, including travelers who sat near the man on the same flight, hotel workers and hospital staff.

An outbreak of the virus, thought to have been transmitted to humans by camels, has sickened 162 people and killed 20 in South Korea in the past month, prompting the government to shut schools, airlines to cut flights and consumers to avoid shopping malls and restaurants. The World Health Organization has said that the outbreak isn’t a global health emergency because the virus hasn’t developed the ability to spread easily between people.

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