June 21, 2015 / 12:30 AM / 2 years ago

South Korea reports three new MERS cases, Thailand says none

SEOUL/BANGKOK (Reuters) - South Korea reported three new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome on Sunday, bringing the total to 169 in the largest outbreak outside Saudi Arabia, but Thailand said it had no new infections.

A woman wearing a mask to prevent contracting Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) walks at an underground shopping district in Seoul, South Korea, June 19, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

South Korea’s Health Ministry late on Saturday reported the 25th fatality, a patient who had suffered a heart ailment and diabetes. The outbreak was first confirmed on May 20 but seems to have leveled off, the ministry said on Friday.

Thailand, which discovered its first case last week, says 175 people were exposed to its single patient, with no new infections reported so far.

“We can confirm that there are no new MERS patients,” said Health Minister Rajata Rajatanavin as he led reporters on a tour of Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport to show health and safety measures that have been put in place, including thermoscans for passengers.

Bangkok is one of the region’s main aviation hubs and tourism accounts for 10 percent of the Thai economy. Thai tourism minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said tourism had not been hit.

MERS was first identified in humans in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and the majority of cases have been in the Middle East. Scientists are not sure of the origin of the virus, but several studies have linked it to camels.

Isolated cases have cropped up in Asia before South Korea’s outbreak.

Reporting by Aukkarapon Niyomyat and Jack Kim; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Nick Macfie

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