Tests confirm Athens cabbie has not contracted MERS

The results of extensive medical tests on Tuesday confirmed that the taxi driver who took a Greek man suffering from the fatal MERS virus from Athens International Airport, where he had arrived on a flight from Saudi Arabia, has not contracted the disease.

The cabbie was tracked down by health authorities on Monday amid fears that he may have been infected with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, a respiratory illness similar to SARS, which has claimed 93 lives since 2012, mostly in Saudi Arabia.

The taxi driver drove a 69-year-old man on Thursday from Athens International Airport to Keratsini, a suburb of Piraeus. The 69-year-old Greek, who lives and works in Saudi Arabia, was visiting relatives for the Easter holiday when he displayed signs of the infection.

He is currently under quarantine in critical condition at the Sotiria Hospital in northern Athens.

Health authorities are also conducting tests on some 50 people who came into contact with the 69-year-old, mostly fellow passengers and crew members working on his flight.

MERS belongs to the coronavirus family that includes the common cold and SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome.

Officials at the Hellenic Center for Disease Control & Prevention (KEELPNO) are keeping a close eye on the 69-year-old patient and have issued a warning to people traveling to and from the Arabian Peninsula to be vigilant of any signs of MERS, which first appears as the flu.