20 people in contact with Thailand's only MERS patient get all-clear

Photo: Reuters

More than half of the 36 people who had close contact with the only confirmed MERS patient in Thailand left medical facilities yesterday after being given the all clear following a 14-day observation period.

The confirmed MERS patient, a 75-year-old man from Oman, is recovering. The 36 people quarantined either sat near the Omani man on a flight to Thailand, are medical workers or taxi drivers.

"We managed to track down all 36 people with a high risk [of contracting the deadly disease]. Lab tests and surveillance show they have not got MERS or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome," Public Health Minister Dr Rajata Rajatanavin said yesterday.

The observation period took place at medical facilities in Bangkok, Chon Buri, Surat Thani, Krabi, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Buri Ram.

Twenty people were allowed to return home yesterday including 12 foreigners.

"The rest are still under the 14-day surveillance," Rajata said.

According to Rajata, 154 people with a low risk of contracting the disease had contact with the Omani patient. These people are not required to stay at medical facilities.

However, they have been advised to take precautions to minimise the risk of spreading the disease if they contract it.

The Omani man is receiving treatment at the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute. He has three relatives under the 14-day observation.

Rajata said the man's condition had improved.

"When lab tests show he will not spread the disease, we will move him out of the institute's airborne infection isolation room," he said.