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South Korea, Thailand Report No New MERS Cases

Updated at 9:25 a.m. ET

Officials in South Korea say they've had no new cases of MERS for 16 days, but also reported the 25th death from the deadly disease. Thailand, which discovered the first case of the deadly disease earlier this week, says 175 people were exposed to its single case, with no new infections reported so far.

The South Korean health ministry reported today that the number of confirmed cases was still at 166, but later announced that a 63-year-old man's death marked 25 fatalities since the outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome began, according to the Yonhap news agency.

On Thursday, Margaret Chan, the head of the World Health Organization, expressed optimism that South Korea could bring the outbreak under control, saying that "the risk of it spreading through the general community remains low."

Speaking in Seoul, she said: "Hopefully we can see the outbreak brought under control, although it might take some time."

Meanwhile in Thailand, which reported its first MERS case on Thursday, the health ministry said it had been in touch with 175 people believed to have been exposed to the index case. The ministry directed those who may be at risk to stay out of public places and monitor their health for symptoms of the disease.

Thai Health Minister Rajata Rajatanavin was quoted by Reuters as saying that the chances of an outbreak such as the one in South Korea were remote.

"Health authorities were able to isolate the patient very quickly before he could travel any further and infect others. The patient spent most of his time in hospitals," said Rajata, according to Reuters.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.