Tests show South Korean in Slovakia probably does not have Mers

A South Korean patience suspected of suffering from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) is admitted to Kramare hospital in Bratislava, Slovakia. -- PHOTO: AFP 
A South Korean patience suspected of suffering from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) is admitted to Kramare hospital in Bratislava, Slovakia. -- PHOTO: AFP 

BRATISLAVA (REUTERS) - Tests show a 38-year-old South Korean man admitted to hospital in Slovakia with suspected Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) probably does not have the potentially deadly virus, the Slovak Health Ministry said on Sunday.

The ministry said three out of four tests came back negative and the fourth was on the upper limits but not positive.

Ministry spokesman Peter Bubla said the patient, who was taken to a Bratislava hospital on Saturday, would undergo further tests.

An outbreak of the virus in South Korea has infected 150 people and killed 16 of them since it was first diagnosed in May in a businessman who had returned from a trip to the Middle East.

The outbreak is the largest outside Saudi Arabia, where the disease was first identified in humans in 2012, and has stirred fears in Asia of a repeat of a 2002-2003 scare when Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) killed about 800 people worldwide.

Mers is caused by a coronavirus from the same family as the one that caused Sars. It is more deadly than Sars but does not spread as easily.

Slovakian media reported the man was taken to Bratislava from the city of Zilina, 200km to the north. The area is home to a Kia Motors factory, and the reports said the man worked for a subcontractor of the South Korean carmaker and had been staying in a hotel in Zilina.