Thailand confirms its first case of MERS as the virus spreads beyond the Middle East

The test came back positive.
The test came back positive.
Image: Reuters/Chaiwat Subprasom
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A 75 year-old businessman from Oman has been diagnosed with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in Thailand, the Thai health ministry announced today. Upon arriving in Bangkok recently for a medical appointment concerning a heart condition, the man was screened for MERS—standard procedure for many travelers entering Thailand these days.

Two lab tests later, he was diagnosed with MERS. Three relatives who traveled with him, and 56 other people who may have been exposed—including passengers on his airplane flight to Bangkok, hotel employees, taxi drivers, and healthcare workers—are now being monitored for symptoms.

An ongoing MERS outbreak in South Korea, the largest ever recorded outside Saudi Arabia, has killed 23 people and caused widespread panic and upheaval. Three South Korean hospitals have been partially shut and two are on lockdown with patients and staff inside, according to Reuters, and nearly 7,000 people in the country have been quarantined. The virus is fatal for roughly one third of patients.