Health staff sprays mosquito killer chemical in Distrct 3, Ho Chi Minh City (Photo: VNA)

Ho Chi Minh City (VNA) – Although the number of Zika virus infection cases have dropped, the disease could break out on a large scale if no preventive plan was implemented since the beginning of the year, said a health expert.

Associate Prof. Dr. Phan Trong Lan, Director of the Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City, gave the warning at a conference held in the city on February 16 to launch this year’s disease prevention tasks in the southern region.

Lan said Zika virus spreads rapidly via Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and is difficult to detect due to mild symptoms. Meanwhile the southern region sees strong human flows in both arrivals and departures.

In 2016, Vietnam detected 227 Zika virus infection cases, of which 207 are residents of Ho Chi Minh City.

Therefore, the expert warned that the number of Zika-infected cases across the region would increase, and recommended each province set up at least two Zika monitoring centres.

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long requested southern provinces and cities to keep a close watch on Zika-related disease and dengue fever and take preventative measures from now on to prevent outbreaks.

He also asked the localities to be vigilant on diseases that are likely to enter Vietnam, such as H7N9, Mers-CoV and Ebola.

Noninfectious diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers and diabetes, are also big threats, Long said, adding that they are responsible for 60 percent of the disease-related death toll nationwide.-VNA