MERS outbreak in South Korea infects 10


Ten people in South Korea are confirmed as having the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, transmitted by a traveller, but there has been no sustained human-to-human spread, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday.

No screening of passengers

The United Nations health agency said it was not recommending screening of passengers or that travel or trade restrictions be imposed on South Korea due to the outbreak.

"The virus is not behaving differently, it is direct transmission and not sustained human-to-human-transmission. They are all related to the same case who came travelling from the Middle East," WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier told a briefing.

Read: WHO still concerned about spread of MERS virus

All 10 people in South Korea are in hospital or self-quarantine, he said, including the traveller, who infected relatives and health care workers. Known as the "index case", he returned to his homeland from the Middle East, including stops in Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

One MERS case in China

Separately, a South Korean man who had travelled to China via Hong Kong this week has tested positive for MERS, a health ministry official in Seoul said on Friday.

The man, in his mid-40s, had travelled to China via Hong Kong.

"He is in isolation in Huizhou in Guangdong province. We understand that he is in stable condition and well-cared for," Lindmeier said.

Read: MERS risk for Ebola-torn west Africa in early 2015

Hong Kong authorities were tracing the people with whom the South Korean man was in contact, he said.

"Again based on the evidence gathered today, the virus does not seem to pass easily from person to person unless there is a close contact," Lindmeier said.

Worldwide, there have been 1 135 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS, including at least 427 deaths, since the virus emerged in September 2012, he added. There is no cure or vaccine.

Also read:

MERS virus doesn't spread easily

Possibility of undetected MERS infections

Restricted visas to combat MERS

Image: Transfer of MERS virus from Shutterstock

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