A Filipino nurse, who arrived last week from Saudi Arabia, has tested positive for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), the first case of the deadly virus in the Philippines, the health ministry said on Wednesday. 

The World Health Organization is worried about the spread of MERS, a respiratory disease known to have infected at least 965 people, of whom some 357 have died, overwhelmingly in Saudi Arabia.

Lyndon Lee Suy, a spokesman for the Department of Health, said the female nurse was undergoing treatment at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

"The nurse had bouts of fever, body pain, cough and difficulty in breathing - symptoms similar to a patient with MERS-CoV," he told a news conference.

"Testing was done which yielded positive results. The patient is in stable condition."

Lee Suy said health authorities were conducting a contact tracing for 225 other passengers on board Saudi Airlines Flight 860. Her husband, who also arrived on the same flight on Feb. 1, tested negative.

First reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia, about 30 percent of people confirmed to have caught the viral respiratory illness MERS-CoV have died.

Nine countries in the Middle East have had confirmed cases while 13 other states, now including the Philippines, have had travel-associated cases, or cases that they have diagnosed but which originated overseas.