Vietnam faces a high risk of avian influenza H7N9 spreading into the country as it shares a borderline with China, Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien said at a conference in Hanoi on April 13.

Addressing the event, jointly held by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on measures to prevent avian influenza H7N9, Tien noted that the number of patients infected with the avian influenza (Type H7N9) in China has reached 43, of whom 11 have died.

The minister said her ministry has requested the healthcare systems at all levels to enhance supervision and coordination with relevant organisations to prevent the epidemic.

The Ministry of Health has also approved an action plan with the aim of timely detecting and dealing with any infection of the disease and limit its impacts.

Dr. Tran Dac Phu, Deputy Director of the Preventive Medicine Department, said poultry smuggling from China to Vietnam and the high transportation demand of the two countries’ people can increase the infection risk.

Phu added that Vietnam has not recorded any case of human infected with the H7N9 virus. However, there has been one person dying of the influenza type H5N1 since the beginning of the year.

To prevent avian influenza effectively, the Ministry of Health will coordinate with the agriculture sector to eliminate bird flu outbreaks in poultry and wild birds and improve food safety.

The ministry also prepares the health care system, enhances staff training about the prevention and treatment methods of the influenza, boosts education campaigns to increase people’s awareness and strictly manages poultry trading activities.

In addition, the Ministry of Health will work closely with international organisation, particularly the World Health Organisation (WHO), to keep up-to-date with the epidemic’s progrerss, supervising measures and seek support in the form of medicine and medical equipment and materials.

According to medical specialists, the source and ways how the avian influenza type H7N9 spreads have not been discovered.

No vaccine is currently available for this subtype of the influenza virus and there is so far no evidence of ongoing human-to-human transmission.

Preventive measures include keeping good personal hygiene, washing hands with soap regularly and avoiding possible infection sources like poultry markets.-VNA