Malaysia quarantines 64 villagers over MERS virus

Malaysia has quarantined 64 people in a southern village after one of its residents become the country's first person to die of a respiratory illness that is spreading from the Middle East, local media reported Thursday.

At least 71 people have died from the so-called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, out of more than 200 infections in the worst-hit country, Saudi Arabia.

The first fatality in Muslim-majority Malaysia—a 54-year-old man—died in hospital in the southern state of Johor on Sunday.

He had developed a fever, cough and after returning from a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca on March 29.

Health authorities screened some 100 people from the man's village, Kampung Bintang, in Johor on Thursday to check for more infections, The Star newspaper said, quoting Ayub Rahmat, a state lawmaker in charge of health.

Sixty-four of them will be quarantined for a week after showing possible symptoms.

"This is the first such case in Malaysia, and we take this matter seriously. That is why we are taking steps to screen the villagers to prevent the virus from spreading," Ayub was quoting as saying.

Health authorities could not immediately be reached for further details.

In the Philippines Thursday, officials asked more than 400 passengers who shared an airline flight with a man infected with the MERS virus to check in with the health department immediately.

The move was a precautionary measure to ensure none of the 418 passengers were infected by the man, who has since been quarantined along with his family, a health official said.

He had returned from the Middle East on the flight.

MERS is considered a deadlier but less-easily transmitted cousin of the SARS virus that erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected 8,273 people, killing nearly 800.

The MERS outbreak was initially concentrated in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia but has now spread to other areas of the country and abroad.

Experts are still struggling to understand MERS, for which there is no known vaccine.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Philippines quarantines man over MERS fears

Apr 16, 2014

Philippine health authorities said Wednesday they have quarantined a Filipino who arrived from the Middle East because he tested positive for the deadly MERS virus.

Malaysia reports first Asian death from MERS virus

Apr 16, 2014

A Malaysian man who went on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia has become the first death in Asia from Middle East respiratory syndrome, while the Philippines has isolated a health worker who tested positive for the deadly coronavirus.

Saudi records 60th MERS virus death

Feb 16, 2014

Saudi health authorities have announced the death of a young man from the MERS coronavirus, bringing the death toll from the respiratory disease in the kingdom to 60.

Recommended for you

Global Ebola toll rises to 5,689: WHO

2 hours ago

The World Health Organization said Thursday that the global death toll from the Ebola virus had increased to 5,689 out of a total of 15,935 cases of infection, mainly in western Africa.

Ebola vaccine promising in first human trials

12 hours ago

Researchers say they're a step closer to developing an Ebola vaccine, with a Phase 1 trial showing promising results, but it will be months at the earliest before it can be used in the field.

At one month, US Ebola monitors finding no cases

15 hours ago

The U.S. program that requires weeks of monitoring for travelers from African countries with Ebola reaches the one-month mark Thursday. And so far, no cases of the disease have turned up.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.