All 21 people who came into close contact with a Middle East Respiratory Syndrome patient tested negative for the disease, health authorities said Friday.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the 21 people who had been placed under quarantine -- including flight attendants and passengers on the same plane as the patient, medical staff and immigration officials -- will undergo a second round of testing scheduled for Thursday.
If they test negative again, all will be released as of Sept. 22 as the maximum incubation period for secondary cases associated with limited human-to-human transmission of MERS is approximately 14 days, the KCDC said.
On Saturday, a 61-year-old man was diagnosed with the disease after returning home from a visit to Kuwait. He was rushed to the emergency room of Samsung Medical Center in southern Seoul upon his arrival at Incheon International Airport.
The agency said that 435 people who came into ordinary contact with the MERS patient are currently being monitored. They have not been quarantined, but they have to report their health condition every day to officials in charge of monitoring.
MERS is a viral respiratory disease with a fatality rate of 20-46 percent. It is caused by a novel coronavirus carried by camels and can be spread when someone is in close contact with a patient for a sustained period.
The first MERS case was recorded in Saudi Arabia, and it has since spread to other countries. As of June this year, the World Health Organization has reported 2,229 laboratory-confirmed cases.
South Korea was hit by an outbreak in 2015, resulting in 38 deaths and 186 people testing positive for MERS. (Yonhap)