MERS patient saw doctors in Oman before boarding flight to Thailand
June 21, 2015 | 9:23 PM
by Times News Service
A group of tourists wear masks to prevent contracting Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) as they arrive at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport, on Sunday. -Reuters

Muscat: An Omani businessman infected with the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus visited a hospital in Oman more than 10 days before he boarded a flight to Thailand, a senior official of the Ministry of Health has revealed.

Passengers on board Oman Air’s June 15 flight WY815 have already been advised to seek medical attention as a precautionary measure, and officials are now monitoring airline staff plus ‘household’ contacts after a Thai hospital confirmed the Omani patient was suffering from the MERS coronavirus.

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As the timeline of his movements unfolds, it has emerged that the patient was admitted to a hospital in Oman on June 4 for heart problems, according to a senior official of the Ministry of Health. The patient, who was suffering from heart disease, then left the hospital on June 7.

“He again went to one of the health centres on June 14 after he developed acute respiratory symptoms and was referred to another hospital. But he didn’t go there and went to Thailand,” Dr. Idris Saleh Al Obaidani, director of the Communicable Diseases Surveillance & Control Department, told Al Shabiba, the sister publication of the Times of Oman. On June 15, he took a flight with his three family members and arrived in Bangkok.

Neither the patient nor his family members reported fever upon arrival in Thailand. He was admitted to a hospital on June 15 and tested positive for MERS-CoV on June 18.

Immediately, the patient and his three family members were transferred to another health care facility where they were put in isolation. Currently, the patient is in stable condition,” according to the World Health Organisation.

Officials at the Bamrasnaradura Diseases Institute in Thailand where the patient is undergoing treatment said that the condition of the victim has improved and he could eat mild food himself and the condition of his three relatives are also getting better with no fever and cough.

“For the 175 people in the risk group, all have good health, and are all located,” it said.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Health said that a number of actions are being undertaken following the discovery of the case.

“The public health response teams are following the household contacts of the case as well as the airline staff who might have been exposed to the case,” it said.

The ministry official said altogether six cases have been reported in the country in the past, the first case was reported in October 2013. “Out of these three have died while others have been discharged,” the official said.

The Ministry is in touch with the health authorities in Thailand in compliance with the international health regulations.

“As of now there has been no further spread of the infection,” it said.

It also assured people of Oman that there is no reason for increased concern over the MERS coronavirus infections in the Sultanate.

“People should take precautions while dealing with animals, especially camels, and they should implement personal hygiene practices such as covering mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing at all times to prevent the spread of infectious microorganisms,” it added.

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