Mers virus: China tracking nearly 200 for possible infections

Two Japanese tourists wearing facial masks arrive at Gimpo airport, western Seoul, South Korea, 29 May 2015, as South Korea confirmed two additional cases of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), raising the number of patients diagnosed with the virus to nine. Image copyright EPA
Image caption Tourists arriving at Seoul's airport were seen wearing masks as South Korea and China confirmed Mers cases

China is trying to track down at least 193 people who may have come in contact with a man with Mers, the country's first confirmed case of the virus.

The alert came as South Korea announced it had two more Mers cases, bringing the total within the country to nine.

The outbreak has been traced to a South Korean who visited the Middle East.

China's first case was another South Korean who had ignored quarantine restrictions and flew to Hong Kong, before travelling south by bus.

It confirmed the case on Thursday night, two days after the 44-year-old made the trip.

The World Health Organization says there has so far been no sustained human-to-human spread of the Mers (Middle East respiratory syndrome) virus, which has no known cure.

'High possibility'

Chinese media reported on Friday that the unnamed 68-year-old man had flown into Hong Kong's Chep Lap Kok airport on Asiana Airlines Flight OZ 723, then took a bus through the busy Shenzhen crossing to Huizhou in the southern Guangdong province. He also stayed in a hotel.

He later went to a Huizhou hospital and tested positive for Mers.

Guangdong health authorities warned that it was likely the disease would spread as he had been in busy or crowded places.

He Jianfeng, director for the Guangdong Provincial Center for Disease Control, told reporters that the possibility of Mers transferring to others in the area was "very high".

So far 38 people who came into close contact with the man have been tested and have not showed any signs of illness.

But a Hong Kong woman who was on the same flight was rushed to hospital on Friday after showing symptoms, said The South China Morning Post.

Mers comes from the same family of viruses as Sars (Severe acute respiratory syndrome) which originated in China in 2002 and infected thousands worldwide.

What is Mers?

Image copyright Reuters
  • Acronym for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome
  • A type of coronavirus which causes respiratory infections
  • First death recorded in 2012 in Saudi Arabia
  • Camels are suspected to be the primary source of infection for humans

The mystery virus with no known cure

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