[SEOUL] South Korea on Saturday said that there had been no new cases of MERS reported for the first time in 16 days, raising hopes the country is winning the battle to contain the deadly virus.
The number of fatalities also remained unchanged at 24, while confirmed cases were stable at 166 over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said.
Six more patients had recovered and were released from hospital, cutting to 106 the number now undergoing treatment, while restrictions on more than 700 people were lifted Saturday, leaving some 5,200 people in quarantine.
The ministry on Friday reported one new case, the lowest rate of new infections in two weeks, saying the outbreak appeared to have started subsiding since the first case was diagnosed on May 20.
One of those who had recovered was 37-year-old doctor Park Kyu Tae, who contracted the virus at Samsung Medical Centre - one of the epicentres of the outbreak - on May 27.
He fully recovered from the disease and returned home on Thursday, only a week after he was diagnosed.
Park caught the virus while working in the hospital's emergency room, which had been contaminated by a "super spreader" of the virus, the JoongAng Ilbo daily reported.