Reports have emerged that nurses in a hospital in China have been casting ballots to determine who should treat a patient with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers).

According to the hospital, the ballot was arranged because there were too many volunteers to treat the South Korean man, although posts on social media suggest many were reluctant to take on the task.

BBC reports the sick man was named as China's first Mers case last week, after travelling to the country from South Korea, via Hong Kong.

He had been advised by a doctor to cancel the trip because his father had already contracted the virus.

Meanwhile, 18 people who sat near him during the journey have also been quarantined, but are not showing any symptoms.

While experts believe the virus is not very contagious, it has a death rate of 27%.

There have been 17 reported cases of Mers in South Korea since last month and over 680 people, who may have come into contact with the infected patients, have been placed in isolation.

The outbreak has been traced to a South Korean who visited the Middle East.

Mers belongs to the family of coronaviruses that includes the common cold and Sars, and can cause fever, breathing problems, pneumonia and kidney failure.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control says there have been 1,167 cases of Mers worldwide, of which 479 have died.