Philippines confirms second case of MERS

36-year-old foreigner under quarantine after testing positive for MERS virus along with seven other people who had close contact with him

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Philippines officials confirmed the country's second MERS case on Monday after a 36-year-old foreigner who came from the Middle East tested positive for the virus and was put in isolation.

The male patient's nationality has not been disclosed but officials said he arrived to the Philippines from Saudi Arabia and stayed in Dubai. He was hospitalised with a fever and cough on July 2 and tested positive for the MERS virus.

At least seven people who had close contact with the patient have been placed under quarantine, including a Filipino woman who is suffering mild symptoms, Philippine Health Secretary Janette Garin said. About 200 people on the flight with the patient have been traced. Nineteen other foreigners were still being traced.

"There is no reason to panic and we appeal to the public to respect the privacy of the patient," Garin added.

The country's first MERS case was a Filipino nurse, who tested positive for the coronavirus after returning from Saudi Arabia last February. She has since recovered from the virus.

The country has tightened surveillance and quarantine measures at ports of entry.

MERS is a coronaviruses from the same family as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which first emerged in 2012. There is still no cure or vaccine which can eliminate the virus.

The disease has killed 33 people in South Korea, and the World Health Organization is worried about the spread of MERS in Asia. Nine countries in the Middle East have had recorded confirmed cases while fourteen other states have had travel-associated cases, or cases that they have diagnosed but which originated overseas.

MERS does not spread from human to human easily but its fatality rate is much higher than that of SARS, with 38 percent of those infected dying, according to World Health Organization (WHO) figures.

TRTWorld and agencies