No MERS-CoV, H7N9 cases reported in Vietnam

No cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and avian influenza H7N9 have been reported so far in Vietnam, a health official has said.

Deputy Head of the Preventive Medicine Department under the Health Ministry Tran Dac Phu made the affirmation at a meeting in Hanoi on July 15.

However, there are risks that MERS-CoV may enter Vietnam in the context of expanding trade and tourism ties with foreign countries, including those where the new deadly coronavirus strain is raging, he noted.

There is currently no vaccine or treatment for MERS-CoV, the health official said, adding that some infected cases show no symptom, hindering the control of the disease.

Globally, from April 2012 to July 15 this year, a total of 82 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection have been reported in nine countries, mostly in Saudi Arabia, including 45 deaths, according to the World Health Organisation.

Meanwhile, a total of 132 H7N9 avian flu cases were confirmed in China, including 43 deaths, by July 10, according to Xinhua news agency.

Vietnam faces high risks of a H7N9 outbreak as the country shares a long border with China, which is vulnerable to poultry smuggling and H7N9-infected people crossing the border into Vietnam.

Given that context, the Vietnamese Health Ministry has instructed relevant branches to increase inspection over the viruses, especially at border gates while taking samples from suspected cases for testing.

The ministry has also issued manuals guiding the supervision and prevention of MERS-CoV, which is in the same family of viruses such as SARS as well as the common cold.

The WHO has suggested people cover their mouth when cough or sneeze (tissue, sleeve or elbow, not hands) and wash hands frequently to prevent infection.

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