Vietnam on alert as Zika virus threatens to spread from neighbors

By Toan Dao   September 4, 2016 | 03:00 pm PT
Vietnam on alert as Zika virus threatens to spread from neighbors
People shop for remaining stocks of insect repellent products at a pharmacy in Singapore September 2, 2016. Photo by Reuters/Edgar Su
Monitoring will be expanded to outpatient medical stations.

Vietnam has put several high-risk locations on high alert following reports of the Zika virus spreading across Singapore and Malaysia.

On September 1, the Ministry of Health convened an online meeting with authorities from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, provinces in the Central Highlands and the central province of Khanh Hoa to discuss ways to prevent the disease from entering Vietnam, VietnamPlus reported on September 3.

Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are the two main air gateways to Vietnam, while Khanh Hoa is a popular tourist destination.

Vietnam’s General Department of Preventive Medicine said the Ministry of Health will use advanced screening technology to diagnose cases of the Zika virus. The Trioplex test, provided by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, started this month, and is able to detect chikungunya, dengue and Zika in a single test.

Representatives at the meeting also agreed that monitoring should be be expanded to outpatient medical stations, where patients with early symptoms often go for health checks.

Vietnam’s National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology will also hold training courses for medical workers across the country to show them how to test patients.

From April to early August, Vietnam confirmed three cases of the Zika virus in Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang and the central province of Phu Yen.

Authorities in Singapore said they had detected 151 cases of the Zika virus, including a second pregnant woman, as of September 1. The government said that half of the cases reported previously were foreigners, mainly from China, India and Bangladesh, and most had already recovered, according to Reuters.

vietnam-on-alert-as-zika-virus-threatens-to-spread-from-neighborsThe United States, Australia and other countries have added Singapore to the growing list of places that pregnant women or those trying to conceive have been warned to avoid.

Meanwhile, Reuters quoted Malaysian officials as saying Sunday that the country is bracing for more Zika cases after detecting the first locally infected patient, which could further stretch a health system struggling with dengue, another mosquito-borne virus that can be fatal.

Zika is primarily spread by mosquitoes but can also be transmitted through unprotected sex with an infected person. A case of suspected transmission through a blood transfusion in Brazil has raised questions about other ways it may be spread, according to Reuters.

Related news:

Southeast Asia needs to up its game to combat Zika: experts

Singapore steps up Zika prevention effort as confirmed cases rise to 56

Malaysia confirms first Zika case, victim had visited Singapore

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