Temperature screening is conducted at Noi Bai International Airport. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA)
– Vietnam has instructed major healthcare establishments nationwide to step up precautionary measures against the spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) after the second case was confirmed in Thailand on January 23.

The General Department of Preventive Medicine requested that the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology and Institute Pasteur closely monitor suspected cases and all those they’ve made contact with, and be ready to support provinces if the outbreak of the disease occurs.

The two institutes will also take body fluid samples from the network of control points for flu and acute pneumonia for tests in an attempt to early identify MERS patients.

Central-level hospitals must request all health staff to strictly follow safety guidelines for MERS prevention and control while working closely with preventive medicine units to test body fluids of people suspected of having MERS infections – particularly those travelling from the Middle East, the general department said.

It urged local health departments to conduct screenings for MERS at airports and border gates, and monitor any people with respiratory illnesses in the community.

MERS is a viral respiratory disease caused by the MERS-CoV virus that was first identified in humans in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and has spread to 25 countries, including France, Germany, Italy, the Republic of Korea, Tunisia and the UK.

It causes severe acute respiratory illness, including fever, cough and shortness of breath.

Approximately 36 percent of reported patients with MERS have died. There is currently no vaccine available to protect people from MERS.-VNA