The outbreak in South Korea seems to be winding to a close, with just four cases reported over the past two days. There are now 24 deaths from 166 cases (14.5%), with the caveat that probably over half of the cases would not have recovered from their illness yet. I would nonetheless expect the final case fatality rate to be lower than that reported from the Middle East (approximately 41%), given the better medical treatment and – more importantly – intensive care support available in South Korean hospitals. It seems that the Koreans are also starting experimental plasma treatment (i.e. using plasma from recovered patients that contain antibodies to the MERS-CoV), which we had considered during the SARS outbreak in 2003, but shelved because the outbreak was already winding to an end even as this was being discussed.

MERS-CoV cases in South Korea according to date of confirmation and hospitals involved.

MERS-CoV cases in South Korea according to date of confirmation and hospitals involved.

Meanwhile, Thailand announced its first case of imported MERS-CoV infection yesterday, in a 75-year-old man from Oman who had come to a private hospital in Thailand (sources suggest Bumrumgrad hospital) for treatment of his heart condition. After diagnosis of MERS-CoV infection, he was transferred to Bamrasbaradura Infectious Diseases Institute in Nonthaburi province.

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Outbreak, Public Health

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