South Korean health officials on Wednesday confirmed the country's first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in a patient who recently returned from Bahrain and is in stable condition after being treated for a high fever and cough.

The 68-year-old man was in Bahrain from April 18 through to May 3 and was engaged in farming-related business, South Korea's health ministry said in a statement. He returned to South Korea on May 4 through Qatar, it said.

The patient's wife who nursed him also has a minor respiratory symptom and the results of tests on her would be available on Thursday, Kim Young-taek, a director at the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Reuters by telephone.

"There is no possibility of the disease spreading to ordinary people although it is possible to have additional cases among those who contacted the patient and have been isolated," Kim said.

First identified in humans in 2012, MERS is caused by a coronavirus, from the same family as the one that caused a deadly outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in China in 2003. There is no cure or vaccine.

The World Health Organization has had reports of 1,118 cases, including 423 deaths. There is usually a surge of cases in the northern spring and most cases have come from hospital transmission.