Officials from Bangkok’s Burmrungrad Hospital have said that they have received the first case of Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS in Thailand, after the disease had a massive outbreak in South Korea last month.
The hospital, which has a reputation for dealing with medical tourism, apparently identified the disease in a 75-year old businessman who travelled there from the Arab country of Oman seeking treatment for a heart disease. There are no details as to how he managed to get himself infected with the disease. 58 of the hospital’s staff who entered in contact with him have been quarantined without hindering ongoing operations.
The patient came to us tired, coughing … there was no fever. So we X-rayed his chest … we found that he could have two things, a heart condition or the MERS virus.”said a doctor from Burmrungrad Hospital in a televised intervention for national news.
Apparently it took four days and two tests to correctly diagnose the Omani businessman, according to an update provided by Thailand’s Public Health Minister Rajata Rajatanavin. The 75 year old was transferred to Bangkok’s Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute on Thursday afternoon.
All 106 passengers of the plane with which the patient arrived are being monitored, with his two sons who were considered to have a high risk of being infected having their tests for MERS come out negative.
The MERS is a quite recent coronavirus first reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia. One of its most serious outbreaks started last month in South Korea and to date there have been at least 166 cases reported with 24 victims. Recent reports though show that the outbreak’s spread has been slowed in the country, with only one case being reported Friday. The MERS outbreak in South Korea can apparently be traced back to a Saudi citizen who probably contracted it in the Middle East.
Burmrungrad is one of Thailand’s most advanced hospitals in terms of apparatuses and medical staff and is a widely popular destination for medical tourists from all across Asia, treating about one million patients annually, half of which are foreigners. Statistics from the Tourism Authority of Thailand quoted by Reuters state that about 10 percent of Thailand’s tourists come for medical reasons, with over a third of them coming from the Middle East area. Shares of privately-owned hospital, Thai airport operators and aviation companies have all fallen with between four and six percent after the announcement.
Image Source: Asian Scientist