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    Jun 30, 2015

    Thailand's 1st Mers patient 'free of virus'


    AN OMANI man who became Thailand's first case of Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) has been declared free of the deadly virus, Thailand's Health Ministry said yesterday.

    The 75-year-old man, who had travelled to Bangkok for treatment for a heart condition and was then diagnosed with the virus, will remain in quarantine for the time being.

    "In the last test results, we did not find the Mers virus in the patient," said Surachet Satitramai, Acting Permanent Secretary at the Public Health Ministry.

    "His condition is much better, but we still need to see if his other health conditions, including his heart condition, will have any effect on his recovery."

    He said three of the man's relatives, who travelled with him to Thailand, were also free of the virus. The Thai authorities are people who were exposed to the patient.

    Thailand confirmed its first case of Mers earlier this month, becoming the fourth Asian country to register the virus this year.

    First identified in humans in 2012, Mers is caused by a coronavirus from the same family as the one that triggered the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars).

    Meanwhile, South Korea reported no new cases of Mers or deaths from the virus for the first time in nine days yesterday. But officials warned there was no indication yet that the outbreak had been brought under control.

    The outbreak began on May 20, when a 68-year-old man was diagnosed after returning from a trip from Saudi Arabia.

    Since then, the virus has spread at an unusually rapid pace, leading to the largest outbreak outside Saudi Arabia. The number of those infected with Mers in South Korea remained unchanged for two days in a row at 182, the Health Ministry said.

    The death toll also remained unchanged from 32 on Sunday. It is the first time that the country has reported no additional infections and no new deaths since June 20.

    Officials remained cautious yesterday as they monitored developments at another hospital in eastern Seoul, where a Mers patient potentially came into contact with thousands of people before being diagnosed on June 22 and dying two days later.

    "This week falls within the incubation period involving that case, so we are keeping a close eye on the situation and will do our best to prevent further spread of the virus," Kwon Duk Cheol, a senior Health Ministry official, told reporters.

    A total of 2,682 people are currently under quarantine in state facilities or at home.