The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) has asked the aviation sector to closely supervise the development of Respiratory Syndrome Corona virus (MERS-CoV) to prevent the virus from entering Vietnam.

All aviation agencies have been requested to keep a close eye on high-risk passengers, including tourists and those who work in farms with camels from Middle Eastern countries, ensuring all suspected MERS-CoV cases are detected in a timely fashion.

The sector should also increase communications among passengers and aviation staff on the virus and prevention methods, asked the CAAV, while coordinating with health quarantine agencies to observe all health quarantine processes.

Foreign airlines were also informed of preventive measures against the virus.

In a meeting in Hanoi on June 2, Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien asked ministry bodies and other relevant ministries and sectors to immediately implement preventive measures in line with directions from the ministry and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

She underlined the need to launch communication campaigns calling on people to avoid travel to affected areas and raise public awareness of the importance of regular hand-washing by soap and other hygiene practices to prevent the spread of the disease.

Head of the Ministry of Health’s Preventive Medicine Department Tran Dac Phu said the health sector should work with all-level authorities to intensify medical monitoring at border gates to promptly detect infections and apply medical declarations in entrance and exit areas.

It is necessary to put in place plans on receiving and treating patients and supervising affected cases to prevent the spread of the disease in communities in case the worst scenario happens, he stressed.
The sector is required to update instructions and professional documents in the field and provide medical staff with training courses on the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of MERS-CoV.

The same day, Hanoi’s Health Department had a meeting with the municipal Steering Committee for preventing MERS-CoV to discuss disease prevention solutions.

Healthcare facilities in the city were requested to take measures to classify patients with symptoms of MERS-CoV to be separated for timely treatment.

Ho Chi Minh City has also rolled out measures to control the virus in all local border gates and airports with a special focus on passengers coming to Vietnam from the Middle East and the Republic of Korea (RoK).

According to the city’s International Quarantine Service, the Tan Son Nhat International Airport in the city handles seven flights from the RoK every day with up to 1,200 passengers. Health declarations have not been implemented for passengers yet, however, the agency has prepared about 50,000 health declarations and sufficient personnel for the work when instituted.

In the northern mountainous province of Lang Son, bordering China - where the virus has been detected, local border gates have also tightened health check procedures to discover suspected cases.

Lang Son International Quarantine Service has directed all functional bodies to prepare medicine to prevent the virus from spreading to the locality.

According to the Health Ministry, MERS-CoV, which was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012, has so far spread to 26 countries with 1,154 patients, 434 of whom have died.

In Asia, there are four countries who have recorded MERS-CoV cases: the Philippines  Malaysia, the Republic of Korea and China.

The disease can be spread between people and causes fevers, breathing problems, pneumonia and kidney failure.

The death rate of people confirmed to have the virus infection is about 51 percent. No vaccine is currently available.

The WHO said those with weak immune systems or chronic diseases such as diabetes are particularly vulnerable to MERS-CoV..

The organisation also urged countries to continue monitoring acute and abnormal respiratory cases associated with travelling from affected countries in the Middle East , while launching standard precautionary measures.

They were also asked to complete the evaluation of MERS-CoV infection and risk and raise public awareness of the epidemic and its risks.-VNA