The South Korean man, who was recently diagnosed with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome infection returning to Seoul from Kuwait, has been fully cured, health officials said Tuesday.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare said the patient tested negative in two MERS-detecting tests conducted on Sunday and Monday. The 60-year-old male has been receiving treatment at a state-designated negative pressure room at Seoul National University Hospital.
The hospital moved the patient to a general ward on Tuesday afternoon.
The government also plans to lift the quarantine on 21 people who have been isolated due to close contact with the MERS patient as of Saturday, on the condition that they test negative in the secondary examination on Thursday.
The ministry will close the active monitoring of 399 people who had daily contact with the patient as of Saturday, as well.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said it isolated the MERS virus from the confirmed patient’s respiratory specimens, analyzed some “S genes,” and presumed them to be similar to “Hu Riyadh-KSA -9730 2017; MG912608.”
The KCDC said it would analyze the patient’s entire genes to confirm virus mutations.
If 21 people with close contact all test negative in the Thursday’s tests, the KCDC will hold a crisis assessment meeting to determine the level of crisis alert on the infectious disease.
The government said it would provide expenses for treatment and hospitalization, daily costs, and psychological support for the patient and those who had a close contact who followed the rules of admission and quarantine.
In detail, the government will cover the patient’s co-payment burden for treatment and hospital admission and daily expenses that had been offered to those affected by the MERS outbreak in 2015 under the name, “emergency welfare livelihood support.”
Health and Welfare Minister Park Neung-hoo commended health officials’ response to the MERS case that occurred in three years. However, the government will review whether there was any problem in the quarantine process and find an improvement measure.
“The confirmed MERS patient made a good self-response, and Samsung Medical Center took appropriate measures to prevent infections,” Park told a news briefing at the Sejong Government Complex on Tuesday. “We will look if there is any part to enhance quarantine guidelines jointly with experts, and make up for it in the future.”
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