A 71-year old Omani man, who was travelling to Bangkok, is the latest victim of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, it was confirmed on Sunday.
The man’s son, hotel staff and passengers on the same plane have been quarantined for two weeks in Thailand, according to news reports. Up to 32 who may be at risk have been placed in isolation and more will also be put under observation.
According to Thai authorities, 40 people, including 22 passengers on the flight, two taxi drivers, four hotel staff and hospital staff, have been deemed as high risk.
Authorities are looking for a total of more than 250 people who may have come into contact with the man.
The Omani victim tested positive for MERS after seeking medical treatment.
“The virus was detected in a 71-year-old Omani man travelling to Bangkok on Friday. After taking a taxi to a hotel, he was checked for the virus at a hospital and the MERS virus was found,” Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, Thailand’s health minister, was quoted as saying in a news conference.
In a later update, the man’s condition was said to be improving, to the extent that he was sitting up and eating.
Thailand’s first MERS case was detected last year in a businessman from Oman who survived the disease. More than 170 people were quarantined that time.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest update on January 7 that it has been notified of 1,626 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS from 26 countries, and at least 586 related deaths. MERS is caused by a coronavirus from the same family as the one that triggered China’s deadly 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).