Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long at the working session (Source: baochinhphu.vn)
Hanoi (VNA) – Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long has suggested Vietnam expand supervising subjects to prevent the spread of Zika virus into the country as it is continually developing globally.

The official made the proposal at a meeting of the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) under the Ministry of Health in Hanoi on February 16 to update the development of the virus and roll out countermeasures.

Deputy Minister Long said apart from pregnant women, those travelling from Zika-hit countries must be tested for the virus.

According to the ministry, no cases of Zika fever have been reported in Vietnam so far, but there is a risk that the virus may enter the country.

Against this backdrop, the ministry has devised a plan of action against the virus under which it has intensified inspections at border gates and among the community and drawn up treatment guidelines.

It has also stockpiled medicines and preventive equipment, and established a hotline on Zika. At the same time, it stands ready to send mobile first-aid forces to localities if necessary.

The ministry recommended women, especially the pregnant, protect themselves by not going to Zika-prone countries and taking measures to prevent mosquito.

Zika virus is mainly transmitted through the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which also carries dengue fever. The virus has been linked to microcephaly- a condition that causes babies to be born with unusually small heads and, in the vast majority of cases, damaged brains. Currently, there is no vaccine or specific medicine to treat Zika.

The virus is characterised by a low grade fever (from 37.5 degree Celsius to 38 degree Celsius). The symptoms are similar to other arbovirus infections such as dengue and include skin rashes, muscle pain, joint pain with possible swelling (notable of the small joints of the hands and feet), headaches, conjunctivitis and malaise. The incubation period is usually between three and 12 days.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that between 2007 and February 5, 2016 , the virus has circulated in 44 countries and territories worldwide.

The organisation explained that anyone who had not previously been exposed to the virus may become infected and that the Aedes mosquito is present in most Latin American nations.

The US’s Centre for Disease Control said that the connection between microcephaly and mosquito insecticide has also become a new concern, which is still under investigation.-VNA