Korea reports MERS deaths; WHO details Philippines case

MERS-infected vero cells
MERS-infected vero cells

Human antibodies react with MERS-CoV-infected Vero cells., CDC / Jennifer L. Harcourt

South Korea reported two more MERS-CoV deaths today, the first in 8 days, lifting the fatality total in the country's healthcare-linked outbreak to 35, Yonhap News reported today, and the World Health Organization (WHO) offered new details on the recent case in the Philippines.

The patients who died are a 50-year-old woman who had underlying medical conditions and a 70-year-old man, according to the Yonhap story, which cited the country's health ministry. The ministry said that of 35 deaths so far, 32 people had preexisting health problems or are older.

South Korea has gone 3 days without announcing a new MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) case, keeping the total at 186 cases.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday in an epidemiologic update that as of Jul 7, the median age of infected patients is 55 and 59% are men. So far 26 healthcare workers have been sickened by the virus.

The agency added that 674 contacts are still being monitored, a number that has dropped over the past several days. It said all cases so far, except for the index patient, are linked to a single transmission chain involving health facilities.

Philippines patient is from Finland

In other developments, the WHO today shared more details about a travel-linked MERS case reported 2 days ago by the Philippines. The patient is a 36-year-old man from Finland who had a cough before traveling to Saudi Arabia between Jun 10 and Jun 18, but didn't feel sick or seek treatment during his stay in the country. On Jun 18 he left Saudi Arabia and stayed overnight in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) before arriving in Manila the next day.

After a 3-day stay in the Manila area, he traveled to Malaysia, visited Singapore, then arrived back in Manila on Jun 25, all the while asymptomatic.

The man came down with a fever and a cough on Jul 2 and visited a hospital, where specimens were taken. He left the hospital against medical advice and stayed home on Jul 3. The following day he returned to the hospital for test results, but it was closed.

He sought care at another hospital. After testing positive for MERS-CoV on Jul 4, he was taken by an ambulance to a third hospital, where he was isolated, is afebrile, and is in stable condition.

Authorities in the Philippines are tracing his contacts, including passengers on the flight from Singapore to Manila. Investigations into possible exposure in Saudi Arabia or the UAE are under way.

See also:

Jul 8 Yonhap News story

Jul 7 WHO update on Korean outbreak

Jul 8 WHO update on Philippines case

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