Haj pilgrim in Yala 'may have Mers'

Haj pilgrim in Yala 'may have Mers'

A Yala woman suspected of having contracted Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) has been hospitalised after returning from the haj pilgrimage to Mecca.

Parudoh Sengsor, 59, of tambon Lammai in Yala's Muang district, was admitted to Yala Hospital Tuesday after showing flu-like symptoms, a source at the Yala health office said.

Ms Parudoh had a high fever, cough and breathing difficulties after returning from Saudi Arabia on on Friday. Her relatives decided to contact the provincial hospital to seek treatment for her.

Most Mers cases have been diagnosed in the Middle East, mainly in Saudi Arabia. The Mers virus belongs to the family of viruses known as coronaviruses, which include both the common cold and Sars, or severe acute respiratory syndrome. Sars killed some 800 people in a global outbreak in 2003.

Only one Mers case has been diagnosed in Thailand. In July, an Omani man was successfully treated for the disease in Bangkok.

Phuket airport meanwhile has introduced tough screening measures, including quarantining possible victims, for pilgrims returning from the haj in Mecca.

Noppadon Phaibunsin, director of 11th Disease Control Office, overseeing Phuket and nearby provinces, said the Public Health Ministry is cooperating with all airports, particularly in the South, including Phuket, Hat Yai and Narathiwat, in screening people returning from Saudi Arabia.

This year, 10,400 people registered to participate in the haj. Pilgrims who went to Mecca are all expected to return to the country by the end of the month, Mr Noppadon said.

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