China's first MERS patient in serious condition

Beijing: The condition of China's first MERS patient is serious, authorities have said while highlighting that none of the 75 people, who were isolated due to their close contact with the man, showed any symptoms of the deadly virus.

Concerns over the spread of the deadly virus in the country were raised after a 44-year-old South Korean man, who flew into Hong Kong, tested positive for the deadly Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in Guangdong last week.

He is receiving medical treatment in Huizhou City and his condition is stated to be serious, the provincial health and family planning commission said yesterday. The commission said that they had quarantined 75 people who had close contact with the man and none of them showed any MERS symptoms.

Meanwhile, Zhong Nanshan, a renowned respiratory expert, said a massive outbreak of MERS in China was unlikely given a lack of evidence on sustained human-to-human transmission of the virus. Local officials and doctors have also expressed confidence in controlling the virus, citing experience gained from outbreaks of bird flu and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), state-run Xinhua news agency said.

SARS was first reported in 2002 in Guangdong, which borders Hong Kong. It killed around 800 people in the world. Guangdong is one of the Chinese provinces that has dealt with the bulk of H7N9 bird flu cases since it emerged in 2013. MERS is a respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus, similar to SARS.

There is no vaccine or treatment available for the disease, which has a fatality rate reaching 40.7 per cent and whose first case was identified in 2012 in Saudi Arabia, where more than 400 have been killed. Over 20 countries have been affected.

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