Japan's health ministry says five people broke quarantine for the MERS virus in South Korea and have returned to Japan.
The South Korean government earlier this month informed Japan that two Japanese and three Koreans who had been under house quarantine, had entered Japan, health minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki told a news conference Thursday.
The ministry had mandated that all five individuals be under strict watch for a period of 14 days during which any signs of fever or any other symptoms will be monitored, Fuji TV reported. So far, four have already completed their time in quarantine.
Quarantine officials at airports are questioning passengers arriving from countries where MERS cases have been reported. The health ministry plans to isolate anyone with a fever of 38 C or higher and test them for MERS, either at the airport or at hospitals. Even travelers who do not exhibit symptoms but have come from areas where there have been MERS outbreaks will be asked to record their vital signs during the two-week incubation period of the disease and report the results to health authorities.
Meanwhile, South Korea on Friday reported its 24th death from the MERS virus and one new case as its battle to contain the outbreak appeared to be paying off.
This brought to 166 the total number of confirmed cases since the first one was diagnosed on May 20, the health ministry said.
The number of people in quarantine has fallen 12% from the previous day to 5,930.
Currently, 112 patients are in hospital for treatment and 30 others have been cured and released.
World Health Organization chief Margaret Chan expressed guarded optimism Thursday over South Korea's ability to contain the outbreak, saying it was now "on a very good footing" after an initially slow response.© Japan Today/AFP