Friday, February 21 2020


HCM City acts to ward off threat of MERS epidemic

Update: June, 08/2015 - 15:10

Three persons, suspected of having the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), tested negative for the disease, a health ministry representative said yesterday.

The isolation area for MERS treatment in HCM City's Tropical Disease Hospital. — Photo


HCM CITY — The HCM City Centre for International Health Quarantine has put in place all preventive measures to keep out Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, a top city health official said.

Nguyen Huu Hung, deputy head of the city Department of Health, said following an inspection on Saturday that four infrared thermometers had been installed to screen passengers, especially those arriving from the Middle East and Korea, where MERS-CoV had broken out.

If anyone is found with a high temperature, they would be sent to an isolation room on the first floor for examination, he said.

If anyone is suspected of having MERS-CoV infection, they would be taken to the Hospital for Tropical Diseases for diagnosis and quarantining.

The city Centre for Emergency Aid would transport them, he added.

Since June 5 all passengers arriving from the Middle East and Korea have been given health declaration forms, which will be sent to preventive health centres in their neighbourhood in the city.

Nguyen Hong Tam, deputy head of the centre, said they had worked with airport authorities to earmark one exit for passengers arriving from the Middle East and Korea so that they could be screened.

It was very important not to miss out a single person coming from these countries, he said.

Passengers arriving from the two places were also being provided with leaflets about the disease and ways to prevent transmission, he said.

Three flights from the Middle East and seven from Korea arrive every day with a total of 1,750 passengers.

As of June 6 no one had arrived with high temperature, he added.

Hung said no MERS-CoV case had been diagnosed in the country so far.

He instructed the centre to work with the airport authorities to show videos of the disease.

Preventive measures had also been taken at ports and border gates, he quoted the health ministry as saying.

The city Preventive Health Centre had formed four mobile teams to carry out prevention efforts in the community, he said.

All health staff in the city would be given more training in how to diagnose and prevent the disease as well as treat it, he said.

Hospitals had been instructed to ask patients with symptoms of respiratory ailments if they had recently visited countries affected by MERS-CoV, and anyone who had would be tested, he said

Health authorities had made thorough preparations to handle any outbreak of the disease, and the public should not be too worried, he said, but added that people should follow the authorities' warnings.

Pham Thi Ngoc Thao, the hospital's deputy head, said that a steering board for disease prevention and treatment had been established and that medical staff had been trained in diagnosis of MERS.

The hospital would use a four-storey building to isolate and treat patients if the Hospital for Tropical Diseases had too many patients to treat, she said.

Nguyen Truong Son, head of Cho Ray Hospital, said that equipment was available for diagnosis and treatment, including breathing machines.

By the end of this week, 30 more breathing machines would be added, he said.

Three test negative

On Sunday, three persons, suspected of MERS-CoV, tested negative for the disease, a health ministry representative said.

The three persons had returned from Dubai, South Korea and China earlier this month.

The latest case involved a 52-year-old woman from the southern province of Binh Duong, who returned from Dubai last Thursday.

In the north, the National Tropical Diseases Hospital also received two persons, who returned from South Korea and China with symptoms of fever and cough. They too tested negative for MERS. — VNS

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