A seafood market in Wuhan where dozens of people are found to be infected with severe pneumonia virus. (Photo: South China Morning Post)

Hanoi (VNS/VNA) – The Vietnamese Ministry of Health is closely monitoring an ongoing severe pneumonia outbreak in central China, as well as taking measures to prevent the virus from entering Vietnam.

Dang Quang Tan, Deputy Director of the Department of Preventive Medicine under the Ministry of Health, said: “We have contacted the World Health Organisation to keep updated about the virus.”

The ministry will step up surveillance at border gates and among communities, he said.

According to the department, as of December 2019, there were 27 cases of viral pneumonia of unknown origin reported in Wuhan, central Hubei province, China.

Seven patients were in critical condition. Others are stable. There have been no recorded fatalities, however.

Most of those infected are store owners at a local seafood market. Local authorities have closed the market for further investigation.

The Chinese health ministry has taken measures to control the outbreak and conducted more testing to identify the specific cause.

There has been no evidence so far of human-to-human transmission. No medical workers have been infected with the virus, according to the Chinese health ministry.

China’s state media reported that the outbreak is suspected of being linked to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), a highly contagious respiratory disease which infected more than 8,000 people around the world in 2003.

Tan said SARS is a dangerous virus which appeared for the first time at the end of 2002 and beginning of 2003.

SARS’ symptoms are quite like those of severe flu. Vietnam is in flu season with A/H1N1 and B being the most common types, he told Tuoi tre (Youth) newspaper.

He advised the public not to be worried as successful treatment for the virus is available, unlike the situation in 2003 when medical workers did not know much about the virus, causing it to spread quickly./.