SEOUL, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- South Korea has confirmed the first Middle East Respiratory Syndrome case in three years and quarantined 22 people who came into close-distance contact with a patient.
A 61-year-old man was diagnosed with MERS on Saturday after he returned from his business trip to Kuwait. A total of 22 people are ordered to self-quarantine or check into facilities in cases where self-quarantine is not possible, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2015, South Korea saw 38 people die in a massive MERS outbreak. More than 16,000 people were quarantined or isolated for care or treatment.
MERS, known as a camel flu, is an infectious respiratory disease started in Saudi Arabia in 2012 with a potential to cause large outbreaks, according to the World Health Organization. The patients have symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. Travelers from the Middle East are requested to report any symptoms of MERS when entering South Korea.
The quarantined individuals include flight attendants, passengers sitting in a close range, a taxi driver and an assistant who helped the patient on a wheelchair. They were categorized as "close contacts," defined as having contacted the patient within approximately six feet (two meters).
A 24-year-old British woman, who was on the same plane with the patient, showed symptoms of the MERS but has been tested negative in a preliminary test on Monday.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government said 10 of the close contacts live in Seoul and a total of 172 residents moderately contacted the patient so far. They have been under a close monitor by state health authorities, it said.
According to the Foreign Ministry, the patient's South Korean colleagues in Kuwait have been tested for MERS. One of them showed symptoms of MERS but found negative on Monday.