No cases of avian influenza H7N9 have been recorded in humans or poultry in Vietnam, affirmed Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long.

At the Epidemic Prevention Steering Board’s meeting in Hanoi on April 23, Long said Vietnam has devised precautionary measures to promptly handle any outbreaks, which have to date claimed many lives in China.

The health service will continue conducting trans-border medical quarantine, increase observations of serious cases of pneumonia in health centres and in the community, and promptly isolate and treat any suspected cases.

At the same time, it will urge localities to devise a multi-sector plan to prevent H7N9 and H5N1 bird flu, keep a close watch on contagions in poultry, thoroughly deal with any outbreaks, and enhance awareness campaigns.

Tran Dac Phu, Deputy Head of the Public Health Ministry’s Preventive Medicine Department, said since the beginning of this year, Vietnam has recorded two cases of H5N1 in southern Dong Thap and Long An provinces, including one fatality in Dong Thap.

Of 335 respiratory failure cases, 28 people tested positive for H3N2, H1N1 and B viruses, he said.

Phu stressed that Vietnam faces a high risk of a H7N9 outbreak, adding that the new strain of virus found in China easily mutates into another strain that is highly adaptable.

Little is known about how H7N9 is transmitted, and there is no vaccine against the virulent virus.

As Vietnam shares a long border with China, it is difficult to control the smuggling of poultry and its products, not to mention the large numbers of people that cross the border.

Recently, the ministry sent a public notice to relevant ministries and departments in 63 cities and provinces nationwide ordering them to combat the infectious disease together.

It also issued instructions on supervising and preventing the spread of the H7N9 virus, checking body temperatures of arrivals at border gates and assigning teams at medical stations to work around the clock.

The ministry has distributed the anti-viral drug Tamiflu to localities, and established inter-sector inspection teams to guide the fight against H7N9 in cities and provinces nationwide.-VNA