Vietnam bracing for H7N9 avian flu


Updated : 04/13/2013 14:06 GMT + 7

A meeting on measures to cope with the new bird flu virus H7N9 that have killed 11 people in China was held yesterday between Vietnam’s Health Ministry, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The meeting was co-chaired by Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long and Dr Takeshi Sakai, the WHO representative in Vietnam.

At the meeting, Long said Vietnam has two well-furnished health facilities that have been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be capable of diagnosing the A/H7N9 avian influenza on humans.

The two facilities are the Central Institute for Hygiene and Epidemiology and the HCM City-based Pasteur Institute, Long said.

Precautions have been taken in many localities in Vietnam, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, although no cases of infection have yet been reported in the country, Long said.

A steering board for the prevention of A/H7N9 avian influenza has been established at Tan Son Nhat airport in HCMC, where three tele-thermometers has been used to measure the body temperatures of all visitors for detection of abnormality since April 6.

A similar precaution has also been carried out at Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi, where two temperature scanners are currently in operation.

The Health Ministry has also stepped up control and inspections over poultry after thousands of Salagane birds were found dead in the south central Ninh Thuan province.

Eight samples of the dead birds have been found contracting the H5N1virus, he said.

Dr Kasai said the Vietnam has already prepared its plan to deal with the H7N9 virus and that WHO is ready to cooperate with the country to combat the disease.

WHO has earlier reported that there is no evidence that the H7N9 virus is being transmitted from human to human.

However, experts at the meeting warned that the new virus strain is likely to pass to mammals in China.
To date, the number of H7N9 infections in China has increased to 44, including 11 fatalities.

The latest death, of a seven-year-old girl, was reported in Beijing on Saturday, April 13 -- the first reported case in the capital of China.

The deadly virus has earlier been found in four other Chinese localities, including Shanghai, Anhui, Jiangsu and Zhejiang, but the infection source remains unknown until now.

According to WHO, no cases of H7N9 have been reported outside of China so far.