Thailand carries out contact tracing after Mers case

A nurse and visitors wearing masks at the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute on the outskirts of Bangkok yesterday. An elderly Omani who arrived in the Thai capital last Friday has tested positive for the Mers virus.
A nurse and visitors wearing masks at the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute on the outskirts of Bangkok yesterday. An elderly Omani who arrived in the Thai capital last Friday has tested positive for the Mers virus.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

BANGKOK • Thai health officials are trying to trace more than 250 people who may have come into contact with an elderly Omani man who tested positive for the Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers), the Health Ministry said yesterday.

The 71-year-old arrived in Bangkok last Friday with a fever which doctors in Oman could not treat, the ministry statement said.

"He tested positive for the Mers virus" and was quarantined in a Bangkok hospital, the statement said, adding that "he is tired but conscious".

Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn told reporters: "This case was found quickly, so the public should not panic."

The authorities are looking for more than 250 people who may have come into contact with the man. Of those, 37 are at "high risk" of contracting the virus, the ministry said.

The health minister said the patient's son, who had travelled with him, was among the 37 "high risk" people.

This is the second recorded case of the virus in the kingdom, which is visited by millions of people each year and is a hub for medical tourism.

The first case was also of an elderly Omani man, who was admitted to hospital in June last year but discharged weeks later after he was treated and declared virus-free.

The Mers virus first appeared in 2012 in Saudi Arabia.

South Korea was hit hard by an outbreak last year which killed 36 people and caused panic across Asia's fourth-largest economy.

The virus is considered a deadlier but less infectious cousin of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars), which killed hundreds of people when it appeared in Asia in 2003.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2016, with the headline 'Thailand carries out contact tracing after Mers case'. Print Edition | Subscribe