Following the detection of a second case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a Thailand health ministry official said today that it had quarantined 32 people to prevent its spread.
MERS is related to SARS
The MERS virus, according to the World Health Organization in a Jan. 7th announcement, has affected patients in 26 countries and has caused no less that 586 deaths. When the announcement was made the WHO also confirmed that they have now received reports of 1,626 cases of MERS that were confirmed through laboratory testing.
The disease is caused by a coronavirus closely related to the coronovirus that caused the World Health Organization said in its latest update on Jan. 7 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 caused a 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in China. That outbreak killed nearly 800 people, the majority in Hong Kong before it was contained after about 18 months in an outbreak that spread to 37 countries.
Amnuay Gajeena, director-general of Thailand’s Disease Control Department told reporters that a 71-year-old man from Oman is responsible for Thailand’s second case of the virus. He along with his son, taxi drivers who drove him, passengers on the same plane and hotel staff where the man stayed have begun a two-week quarantine and the number quarantined could be extended.
“We’re still doing an in-depth investigation, so we might be able to bring more people in,” Amnuay told Reuters.
The first case of MERS was found in another Omani man in June 2015; the man in question survived.
MERS to affect tourism?
What limited tourism that exists in the Middle East and Northern Africa has taken a hit given the fear of ISIS attacks or those by other jihadi groups. Thailand is hoping the same thing won’t happen to its tourism industry following a perceived problem with MERS. 10% of Thailand’s economy comes from tourism and tourism officials are estimating that 32 million will come to the country this year to break last year’s record of nearly 30 million.
“We think we have the situation under control,” Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul told Reuters recently. “We’re confident this will not affect tourism in Thailand.”