Vietnam health authorities scramble to keep out swine flu

With the World Health Organization warning of a major of H1N1 swine flu epidemic, Vietnamese health authorities swung into action April 27 to put in place preventive measures.

A thermal camera system monitors the body heat of passengers is activated at Tan Son Nhat Airport, HCM City, on April 27 (Photo: SGGP)

The chief of Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Health visited Tan Son Nhat International Airport to instruct officials on the measures.

Nguyen Van Chau told the international health quarantine center to measure body temperatures of passengers. “If anyone has a temperature of above 37ºc, the person has to be isolated for a health check and tests. If the passenger is suspected to have swine flu, he or she will be taken for treatment,” he said.

The director of the quarantine center, Nguyen Van Sau, said emergency preventive measures have been deployed at airports and seaports.

Doctors are keeping watch on a 24-hour basis and equipment like mufflers and clothes are ready for use in case of suspected patients.

There are around 10 incoming flights daily from North America, the epicenter of the flu, carrying around 2,000 passengers.

In Ha Noi, the Noi Bai International Airport customs division and the Preventive Health Center are measuring the body temperatures of incoming passengers, especially those with symptoms of fever and breathing difficulties coming from Mexico and the US, Dao Van Lien, head of the division, said.

The director of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Environment, Dr. Nguyen Huy Nga, has instructed health authorities in border areas to keep watch to discover the arrival of sick people.

Human transmission

The Ministry of Health said H1N1 swine flu is a malignant and highly contagious respiratory disease.

Humans usually get it from pigs though some people fall sick despite not having any contact with swine.

WHO said this is because the disease is transmitted between humans.

The health ministry said it has not found people contracting the disease by eating pork since the H1N1 virus is destroyed at 70ºC.

Phan Cong Hung, the deputy head of public health at the Pasture Institute, HCMC, said the virus causing swine flu is a combination of swine flu, bird flu, and human flu, and the institute does not have the capability to test for this virus.

The virus causing swine flu is more virulent that of bird flu and SARS.

Bird flu is not transmitted between humans while SARS spreads only between humans.

By staff writers – Translated by H.Mien

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