Thailand has become the latest county with confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) after authorities confirmed one man entering Thailand from Oman was infected with the virus.

According to Thai Public Health Ministry, the 75-year-old Omani citizen was diagnosed with MERS after he went to a hospital to seek medical advice on his heart condition. Local officials have since transferred him to a another hospital specialising in communicable diseases.

File photo. Photo: WikiMedia

It said officials were also closely monitoring the medical condition of three of his family members and 56 people who have had close contact with the man since his arrival on Monday.

It has been reported that the man drunk camel milk when he was in Oman.

Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, is currently in South Korea to discuss the epidemic with local officials. The country reported three additional cases of MERS on Thursday, adding up to the total number of confirmed cases to 165. Three more patients have died from the virus on Thursday, and the death toll rose to 23.

Margaret Chan from World Health Organization. Photo: WikiMedia

South Korean officials said all the additional three people who died of the virus were of old age or initially with poor health conditions.

In Hong Kong, the Centre for Health Protection said all 24 suspected MERS cases yesterday were false cases. It continues to advice against non-essential travel to South Korea.

MERS is caused by a type of virus similar to the one that caused SARS, the severe acute respiratory syndrome, which spread in China and Hong Kong in 2002 and 2003.

Symptoms are similar to that of a common cold, including a fever, cough and breathing difficulties.

No vaccine has been developed.

Eric Cheung

Eric is currently a Bachelor of Journalism student at the University of Hong Kong. Eric has his finger on the pulse of Hong Kong events and politics. His work has been published on The Guardian, Reuters and ABC News (America).