SEOUL (Reuters) – A South Korean man, 61, was diagnosed with the potentially deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and is being treated at a hospital in Seoul, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said on Saturday.
The patient returned to Seoul on Friday after a business trip to Kuwait from August 16 to Sept. 6, according to the KCDC.
This is the first time since July 2015 that an outbreak of MERS has been reported in South Korea.
“As far as found by now, 20 people including flight attendants and medical staff have been in close contact with the patient and they are under isolation at home,” KCDC director Jeong Eun-kyeong told a press briefing.
The patient, who was suffering from diarrhea, headed directly to Samsung Medical Center from the airport, Jeong said. He is now in an isolation ward at Seoul National University Hospital.
The KCDC director said all flights from Middle East countries have been put into quarantine. “The KCDC and local governments will do our best to prevent spread of the MERS,” Jeong noted.
The infectious disease swept South Korea in 2015 leading to 38 fatalities. MERS is thought to be carried by camels and most of the known human-to-human transmission has occurred in healthcare settings.
Reporting by Hayoung Choi; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Catherine Evans