Man who came into contact with MERS patient insists on flying
A man whose father had tested positive for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in South Korea insisted on leaving for China.
The 44-year-old man had been kept in isolation last week but left for China on the business trip on Tuesday (May 26), a day after his father was diagnosed with the virus.
The Korea Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Yang Byung Guk told reporters: "We advised him against the trip but he refused."
Korea informed China's health authorities and the man was immediately admitted to a hospital in Guangzhou for testing following his arrival.
A list of 28 passengers who had sat close to the man has been drawn up, said Mr Yang.
South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that Hong Kong health officials are prepared to trace about 200 passengers who were on the same flight as the man. He had landed in Hong Kong and took a cross-border bus to Shenzhen.
Hong Kong's controller of the Centre for Health Protection (CHP), Dr Leung Ting-hung told SCMP that they will start tracing people the man had come into contact with in Hong Kong once he is confirmed as having the virus.
“The CHP is following up the situation closely with the World Health Organisation, the South Korean government and mainland officials on the situation,” Dr Leung said.
“Action will be taken immediately once the man has been confirmed with MERS.”
The contact tracing will involve 158 passengers, including 73 Chinese and eight crew members onboard Flight OZ723 which landed in Hong Kong on May 26. The cross-border bus he took from the airport to Shenzhen involved around 10 people, Dr Leung aded.
Meanwhile, Korea confirmed two more cases of MERS in the country on Thursday (May 28), bringing the total number of people infected to seven.
The infections have all been traced to the original case - A 68-year-old man who was diagnosed on May 20 after returning from a trip to Saudi Arabia.
MERS is considered a deadlier but less infectious cousin of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) virus that killed 774 people worldwide, including 33 people in Singapore, in 2003.
Symptoms of MERS may range from flu-like aches and pains to pneumonia and kidney failure.
Korea's CDC said more than 70 people who may have been exposed directly or indirectly to the original patient were currently in voluntary quarantine.
South Korea’s health ministry said 23 countries had a combined 1,142 cases of MERS and 465 deaths had been reported, as of May 16. Of the total, 1,117 cases, or 97.8 per cent, were in the Middle East.