MOH convenes online meeting on MERS

As the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) spread quickly in South Korea and it is likely to enter Vietnam, the Ministry of Health (MOH) yesterday convened an online training meeting with 63 cities and provinces across the country over the prevention and treatment of the disease. 

Fretting about increasing number of infection cases and quick spreading of the disease in many countries especially in Korea, head of the Preventive Medicine Department under the Ministry of Health Dr. Tran Dac Phu said that the deadly disease, which has spread to 26 countries, has been affecting nearly 1,200 people and killing almost 449 of them.

In South Korea, total infection cases are 87 and six of them succumbed to the disease, he said.

There has been no case of MERS in Vietnam, said Dr. Phu, but the disease is highly likely to enter the country as people travel to infected countries or holidaymakers who stayed in infected nations during the stopover and then entered the Southeast Asian country.

Currently, there are over 10 flights from South Korea to Vietnam carrying around 3,000 passengers into Vietnam. In addition, over 100,000 Vietnamese people are working in South Korea who can return Vietnam to visit their relatives.

As the disease is a real threat, the ministry and related agencies liaised to supervise and prevent it. The ministry even worked out a plan with three hypothetic situations. The first is when no passenger arriving on international flights shows any sign of the respiratory syndrome and yet the epidemic is likely to penetrate Vietnam; the second situation is when Vietnam detects in-flight passenger(s) on international flights suspected to contact MERS; and the third situation is when the epidemic spreads out in the community.

The ministry also requested that all border gates, including the international airports in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, tighten medical quarantine procedures to detect signs of the disease from international visitors, especially those from MERS-CoV-hit areas.

Head of the Medical Examination and Treatment Department under the Ministry of Health Luong Ngoc Khue  said that the ministry had required 8 biggest hospitals including Hanoi-based Central Tropical Disease Hospital, Back Mai Hospital, the Central Children Hospital, Thua Thien-Hue-based Central Hue Hospital, HO Chi Minh City-based Tropical Disease Hospital, Children Hospital No.1 and No.2 and Cho Ray Hospital to receive MERS-infected people.

These hospitals are in good preparation with full equipment, chemicals and personnel for treating the disease.

Vietnamese Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien said that the ministry has set up plans and 4 quick response teams in the South, the North, the Central and Highlands regions to cope with the disease in four regions of the country as well as requested passengers from South Korea to fill out a health declaration form before gaining entry.

The Health Minister asserted that the disease is very dangerous affecting society and economy; accordingly, medical workers must not be neglectful and media must spread information of the disease to people.

The World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that environment in hospitals was a favorite environment for spreading the disease with half of infection cases there. The rate of infection in a family is 4 percent.

By Quoc Khanh - Translated by Uyen Phuong

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