Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI - The Health and Agriculture ministries are stepping up surveillance, preventive and control measures against bird flu, especially in border areas, following alarming reports from China.
Recent reports say more than 400 people have contracted the deadly virus strains in China, leaving 96 dead.
The number of human A/H7N9 cases have increased steadily in China since last October, causing the fifth outbreak in the country since 2013, the WHO has reported.
The Department of Animal Health under the Minitry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) said no case of A/H7N9 bird flu has so far been reported in the country.
However, the long border with China and busy cross-border trade between the two countries pose a high risk of H7N9 virus entering Việt Nam, authorities feel.
“Ineffective surveillance of poultry smuggling via border gates is one of the risks for transmission of the virus to Việt Nam,” said Deputy Health Minister Nguyễn Thanh Long.
Most of the detected cases in China are in Yunnan and Guangxi provinces, which border seven provinces of Việt Nam: Điện Biên, Lai Châu, Lào Cai, Hà Giang, Cao Bằng, Lạng Sơn and Quảng Ninh.
It is estimated that between 1,000 and 10,000 turns of people traveling via these borders.
Given the context, Long said he suggested raising the alert on A/H5N7 to the second level, which is usually done when actual cases are detected.
“No warning has been issued regarding traveling to these areas, but people should consider not going near the border areas as a safety measure for themselves and the community,” Long said.
In the beginning of this year, several cases of A/H5N1 were recorded in Bạc Liêu and Nghệ An provinces. Last year, A/H5N1 cases were also detected in Nghệ An, Bạc Liêu, Cà Mau provinces and Cần Thơ City.
Hoàng Minh Đức, deputy director of the Department of Preventive Medicine under the Ministry of Health, said while no cases of A/H5N1 on humans have been reported in 2015, 2016 or 2017.
However, given the complications of the epidemic in Chinese provinces, the Ministry of Health had decided to act early and actively to prevent any possible outbreaks, he added.
The ministry has improved its testing system nationwide, especially at flu centers. Việt Nam can detect all avian flu viruses including A/H7N9, AH5N1 and A/H5N6, as also read the genome sequence to discover the virus’s mutations.
Co-operation has also been strengthened between relevant ministries in responding to suspected cases of A/H7N9 at the border gates.
In the coming time, tighter supervision would be conducted in provinces bordering China and Cambodia, whole sale markets and poultry markets. Localities, especially border provinces between Việt Nam and China, have been told to crack down on the transportation, trade and slaughter of poultry and poultry products without evidence of quarantine and clear origins.
Local health agencies have also fully prepared medical equipment and human resources to promptly deal with any emerging outbreak.
Agencies under Agriculture Ministry have been urged to actively use temperature measuring machines and spraying chemical disinfection at the gates, apart from other measures.--VNS