Vietnam puts together 4 fast-response teams to confront MERS-CoV

The Vietnamese Ministry of Health has established four fast-response teams to cope with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome caused by the Corona virus (MERS-CoV) that has spread to 26 countries and killed more than 440 people.

These four teams will be deployed to four regions of the country, under a decision signed by Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long on June 5.

The team for the northern region will be headed by Dr. Tran Dac Phu, head of the ministry’s Preventive Health Department, while Vien Quang Mai, director of the Nha Trang Pasteur Institute, will be in charge of the team for the central coast.

The two teams for the Central Highlands region and the southern part will be led by Pham Tho Duoc, chief of the Central Highlands Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, and Phan Trong Lan, director of the Ho Chi Minh Pasteur Institute.

These four teams will assist local health authorities in detecting people with signs of MERS-CoV, isolating and treating them properly, as well as in conducting activities to prevent and control the epidemic.

The ministry’s decision to set up these teams followed reports that the disease has widely spread in the world since the deadly virus first appeared in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

South Korea, an Asian country, has recently reported that it is trying to combat the disease.

Over more than two weeks ending on Friday, the number of Korean people confirmed to be infected with the CoV increased to 41, according to Yonhap News Agency.

Of the patients, four have died, with the latest death of a 76-year-old man recorded on June 4. 

In addition, nearly 2,000 people suspected to have contracted MERS-CoV have been isolated for treatment in South Korea.

The incubation period of the disease is from two to 14 days, during which infected people will show no sign of infection, Dr. Phu said, adding that the disease transmits from ill people to others through close contact, such as caring for or living with an infected person.

He also warned that the mortality rate is as high as 40%.

During a working trip to Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday, Deputy Minister Long emphasized that the virus can quite possibly penetrate Vietnam as there is a strong flow of people to the Southeast Asian country from South Korea and vice versa.

There are 22 flights from the Republic of Korea to Da Nang City in central Vietnam per week carrying a total of about 4,500 passengers, the local health department said.

In addition, every week sees 12,000-13,000 other passengers come to the city from China, which has also reported its first MERS-CoV case, the department added.   

The number of people coming from the Republic of Korea to Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi and Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City daily averages 1,000 and 1,200, respectively, Dr. Phu said.

Vietnamese Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien has requested that South Korea be put on the list of nine countries from which people visiting Vietnam must fill out a health declaration form before gaining entry, under a rule applied since July 1, 2014, when the disease spread widely.

The nine countries include Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, Kuwait, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iran. 

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

There have been 1,193 cases of MERS-CoV infection globally, of which 446 have resulted in death, since September 2012 when the virus first appeared, the World Health Organization reported on Friday.