South Korean man who visited Kuwait diagnosed with Mers

Henrietta Strickland
September 11, 2018

Anxious that South Korea could see a repeat of the 2015 outbreak, the government is under emergency alert, trying to tackle the virus quickly and accurately to prevent it from spreading.

Health authorities said Saturday that a 61-year-old man was confirmed to be infected with the lethal virus after returning from a business trip to Kuwait via Dubai of the United Arab Emirates. He was hospitalized right after the trip showing symptoms of fever and phlegm and has since been receiving quarantine treatment at Seoul National University Hospital in central Seoul.

He was rushed to the emergency room of Samsung Medical Centre in Seoul after he arrived at Incheon International Airport.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government said on Monday that the patient had advised his wife before his arrival in Incheon to wear a mask upon meeting him at the airport. Some 440 people who had indirect contact with the patient will be monitored, they added.

The patient visited a local hospital during his stay in Kuwait for diarrhoea, which recurred on his way back home, the Yonhap news agency reported.

"As far as we know, 20 people, including flight attendants and medical staff, have been in close contact with the patient and they are under isolation at home", KCDC director Jeong Eun-kyeong told a press briefing yesterday.

Airport officials and health authorities have drawn flak after it was revealed that the man was not quarantined at the airport upon his arrival on September 7, although he had told officers that he had experienced diarrhea, one of the major symptoms of MERS, for about 10 days while overseas. "This time the people on the same flight will be under active monitoring". 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.

It was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and has since spread to other countries.

No specific treatment or vaccine is now available for MERS.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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