The Department of Health in Ho Chi Minh City is stepping up its efforts to detect early cases of exposure to the deadly virus Ebola which has killed more than 1,900 people in West Africa so far.

A World Health Organisation (WHO) official updated the latest figures on September 3, warning that the worst Ebola outbreak the world has ever seen is still gathering pace.

Fearing the virus could be brought into Vietnam via its border gates, the Deputy Director of the municipal Department of Health, Nguyen Huu Hung, has called on the city’s medical stations to increase awareness raising campaigns on the early symptoms of the virus and treatment procedures.

Ebola patients initially show symptoms of sudden fever, weakness, muscle ache, headache and sore throat. The later symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, impaired kidney and liver functions, and sometimes internal and external bleeding. However, the earlier Ebola is detected and the symptoms are treated, the higher the chance of survival, according to the WHO.

Ho Chi Minh City ’s District 1 has recorded 18 individuals travelling to Vietnam from Ebola-hit regions, including 13 from Nigeria , one of the four West African countries affected by the virus.

The Department of Preventive Medicine is undertaking maximum efforts, including the strict observation of those travelling from Ebola-hit regions for three weeks upon arrival and enhanced coordination with the police to keep them under community surveillance.

The municipal health department has requested healthcare facilities to prepare for a potential outbreak, including the establishment of isolation wards and setting aside personal protection gear for medical workers.

Ebola is spread through contact with an infected person's bodily fluids, such as sweat and blood. There is no cure or vaccine for the virus, which has affected Guinea , Sierra Leone and Liberia the most.

To date, Vietnam has no reported cases of Ebola infections.-VNA