SEOUL: A South Korean man was re-diagnosed with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) nine days after being discharged from hospital, authorities said.
The patient, 35, was re-admitted to Seoul National University Hospital (SNUH) on Sunday (Oct 11) with a high fever, an official from the Health and Welfare Ministry revealed.
He was the last patient to be diagnosed with the virus, in the outbreak that killed 36 people in South Korea. The patient first contracted the virus while suffering from lymphoma. He was discharged from hospital after testing negative for the viral infection in two earlier tests early this month.
According to the Health and Welfare Ministry, more than 100 people who were in contact with the patient, including doctors and family members, have been quarantined.
When asked why a patient who had tested negative for the virus earlier now tested positive, Yang Byung-guk, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said: "Two months prior to being discharged, the patient was detected to have a minuscule amount of the virus in his body, which has been inactive for some time and chances of infections were low."
Before this, South Korea had reported no additional cases of the disease since July, raising hopes it could finally declare the end of MERS in the country on Oct 29. But this latest case is expected to make that difficult for South Korea now.
South Korea recorded its first MERS case on May 20. Since then, the deadly virus has infected 186 people, killing 36.
But unlike the first time in May when South Korea was hit with this virus unexpectedly, South Koreans are not expected to be that worried about this case. They believe that the government has the situation under control and they do not think that the virus is going to spread further.