|The testing system for Zika virus at HCM City-based Pasteur Institute. — VNS/Photo Phương Vy|
HCM CITY — Seventeen people have tested positive for the Zika virus in HCM City as of yesterday, according to the city-based Pasteur Institute.
They were detected through an epidemic surveillance system the local Department of Health has put in place.
Trần Đắc Phu, head of the Ministry of Health’s Preventive Health Department, said it is impossible to prevent the spread of Zika because the city has a population of more than 12 million.
Besides, the virus is transmitted by the same aedes species of mosquito which also spreads dengue, which is now in its peak season in the city, he said during a discussion yesterday between the Preventive Health Department and the city’s health department to seek measures to combat the disease.
People’s awareness of preventive methods, including killing of mosquitoes and larvae, remains low, he said.
On Sunday the Preventive Health Department confirmed the country’s first case of microcephaly, or abnormal smallness of the head, in a four-moth-old child, saying it is likely related to Zika.
The patient was found in the Central Highlands province of Đắk Lắk.
Phu instructed the city’s Department of Health to take prompt action to protect pregnant women.
They should be the focus of Zika screening and counselling, he said, adding it is a crucial task.
He also said pregnant women should have regular medical checks to monitor their health and that of their foetus.
In the case of any suspicion they have the disease, they should be tested and counselled, he said.
In Việt Nam, 23 people have tested positive for the disease so far, with the remaining six reported in the provinces of Khánh Hòa, Phú Yên, Bình Dương, Long An, Trà Vinh, and Đắk Lắk.
According to the city’s health department, the number of facilities designated to monitor Zika has been increased from 30 to 45, and they include private general clinics in District 2 besides paediatrics, obstetrics, and district hospitals.
Nguyễn Tấn Bỉnh, the department’s head, said District 2 has the highest incidence of the disease in the city, and thus the threat there is high.
People with symptoms such as fever, joint pain and conjunctivitis should visit health facilities for free testing to screen for the disease, he added.
The department has said it would provide 2,000 more kits to the 45 designated health facilities for screening.
It has also urged the public to kill mosquitoes and larvae in their surroundings.
It fines individuals and organisations who fail to carry out the task and larvae are detected in their neighbourhood. —VNS