Screenings will be intensified at border gates and hospitals to early detect people suspected to contract deadly virus Ebola, particularly those who return from affected areas.
The information was heard during a meeting held by the Ministry of Health’s Vietnam Public Health Emergency Operation Centre (PHEOC Vietnam) on May 31 to assess the risk of Ebola outbreak in Vietnam and seek proper preventive measures.
The meeting concluded that the overall risk of the Ebola virus spreading into Vietnam is low as most of Ebola cases were discovered in Congo’s very remote areas and there are very few trade and exchange activities between Vietnam and Congo. However, there is still the possibility of cases involving people entering Vietnam from the affected region.
To prevent a possible epidemic, hospitals were tasked to strengthen infection prevention and control and to prepare an isolation area exclusively for Ebola suspected cases.
The Ministry of Health will continue liaising with the WHO to keep a close watch on the Ebola epidemic globally and at the same time, work closely with relevant ministries and state bodies to share information on the epidemic, and entry and exit of travellers from the affected areas in order to take appropriate and effective preventive actions.
Ebola is a highly infectious disease that spreads through contact with even a small amount of bodily fluid of an infected person. Its early flu-like symptoms are not always easy to detect.
According to the International Health Regulations National Focal Point (IHRNFP) and representatives from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the outbreak of Ebola virus disease has returned to Congo since the beginning of April.
By May 29, a cumulative total of 58 Ebola cases, including 27 deaths, have been reported. Most of the cases were found in the remote areas of Bikoro, Iboko and Wangata, far away from the capital city of Kinshasa, where travelling is not easy with very few visitors.
There is no case reported in neighbouring countries and other parts of the world.
The WHO has convened an emergency committee to discuss the epidemic, assessing that the Ebola outbreak in Congo to be at level 3, the highest alert level. Though the level indicates there is a high risk of the virus spreading to nearby countries, it is insufficient for the WHO to announce a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). The world health body also stressed that it was “particularly important there should be no international travel and trade restrictions”.
The current outbreak – the ninth to hit Congo since Ebola was identified in 1976 – involves the same strain of the virus that struck three West African countries in 2013-15 and sparked an international panic. It went on to kill more than 11,300 people in the deadliest ever Ebola epidemic.-VNA