One of four suspected Mers cases at Hong Kong clinics tested negative

A passenger from Busan, South Korea, receiving a temperature check upon her arrival at Hong Kong Airport on June 5, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A passenger from Busan, South Korea, receiving a temperature check upon her arrival at Hong Kong Airport on June 5, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

HONGKONG - One of four suspected cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) found at clinics in Hong Kong tested negative, it was reported on Thursday.

It was unclear whether the three other cases had also tested negative, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported, adding that the hospital authority only said no confirmed case had been found so far.

The authority confirmed that a 22-year-old woman who sought treatment at a clinic operated by the Quality HealthCare group in Tsing Yi MTR station had tested negative, according to the report.

The four women picked up at the city's clinics marked the first time the wider community may have been exposed to the virus. Previous suspected Mers cases in Hong Kong were intercepted during temperature checks at the airport, the SCMP said.

All four fell ill after visiting South Korea, where an outbreak has killed nine people and infected 122.

Hong Kong issued a "red alert" advisory on Tuesday against non-essential travel to South Korea. A red alert, the second-highest outbound travel advisory on a three-point scale, is defined as a "significant threat" and means that people should "adjust travel plans" and "avoid non-essential travel", according to the Hong Kong government.

The Mers virus is considered a deadlier but less infectious cousin of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars), which killed 299 people in Hong Kong in 2003.

There is no vaccine or cure for Mers which, according to the World Health Organisation data, has a fatality rate of around 35 per cent.