Malaysia steps up health screening for MERS at entry points

A monitor connected to a body temperature scanner shows flight passengers arriving at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand, June 21, 2015. REUTERS/Kerek Wongsa (Reuters)

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia has stepped up health screenings at all entry points into the country, after the first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) was reported in neighboring Thailand last week. The Southeast Asian nation, which shares a 650 km (400 mile) land border with Thailand, has already begun monitoring body temperatures at the airports, Deputy Health Minister Hilmi Yahaya said in a statement to state news agency Bernama. "Now, we are going further to include all entry points," he said. Visitors entering the country would also be briefed on precautions to be taken to avoid being infected with the disease, the minister said in the statement. There have so far been no cases of MERS reported in Malaysia. South Korea has been dealing with the largest outbreak of MERS outside Saudi Arabia, and on Monday reported two more deaths, bringing the number of fatalities to 27. Seoul also said it had confirmed three more MERS cases, taking the total in the outbreak to 172. [ID:nL3N0Z70QA] Thailand's health ministry said at the weekend that 175 people were exposed to its only case of MERS, which was unconnected to the outbreak in South Korea. MERS was first identified in humans in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and the majority of cases have been in the Middle East. Scientists are not sure of the origin of the virus, but several studies have linked it to camels. Isolated cases have cropped up in Asia before South Korea's outbreak. (Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Alex Richardson)