South Korea is considering raising its watch against the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, health officials said Thursday, one day after the country reported its first case of the viral disease.
Officials from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said an experts' meeting will be held later in the day to decide whether to raise the country's watch against the new respiratory disease to the second-highest level of alert.
The move comes one day after a 68-year-old man was diagnosed with the viral respiratory illness, marking the first confirmed case of MERS in the country.
The CDC had immediately raised its watch against MERS by one notch to the third-highest level of caution, which required setting up quarantine areas and checkpoints at all major ports.
Earlier in the day, the disease control center said the man's wife has also been diagnosed with the disease. Identities of the couple were not released for privacy reasons.
MERS is a viral respiratory illness that is fairly new to humans, with only 1,142 reported cases in 23 countries since the first case was confirmed in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
There currently is no vaccine or treatment for the disease, which has a very high fatality rate of 40.7 percent.
The patient had traveled to the Middle East in mid-April before returning home on May 4, the CDC said.
CDC officials said they were still working to find out how the man became infected. (Yonhap)