The Ministry of Health (MoH) recently issued an action plan in preparation for a strain of avian flu virus H7N9 which is spreading across neighbouring China.

The information was released at a meeting of the National Steering Committee for Bird Flu Prevention and Control in Hanoi on January 13.

Accordingly, relevant agencies are to work closely together in diagnosing, treating and preventing the deadly virus, while strictly monitoring the epidemic in both poultry and humans.

MoH has also set up a network to receive, treat and isolate people suspected of having the virus in order to control the dangerous and emerging infectious disease in central hospitals.

Health quarantine units in border areas have been urged to strictly monitor people travelling from epidemic-hit regions, while using remote body temperature measuring machines to detect patients.

Deputy Director of the MoH Preventive Medicine Department Tran Dac Phu said there is a high risk of the H7N9 virus entering Vietnam, since the epidemic is developing in a complex fashion, not only on the Chinese mainland but also in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

There have worryingly been seven recorded cases of the virus in Guangdong province, which borders Vietnam.

The cold weather in winter and the increasing number of tourists and traders crossing the border during the Lunar New Year holidays make it easier for the flu to spread farther, Phu added.

By January 13, as many as 168 cases of H7N9 flu have been recorded worldwide, with 164 cases in China, including 51 deaths.

The epidemic is likely to spread through China’s southern provinces, which are near the border line with Vietnam.-VNA