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Ho Chi Minh City assigns three hospitals to treat possible MERS patients

Tuesday, June 16, 2015, 14:47 GMT+7

Three hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City have been tasked with receiving and treating people with signs of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), local health authorities said on Tuesday. Vietnam has yet to record any confirmed MERS case, which is caused by the Corona virus, but the penetration of the deadly virus into the Southeast Asian country is likely, as the disease has spread to 26 countries around the world, including two in Asia, namely South Korea and China, the municipal Department of Health said at a meeting yesterday. In such a context, the department has decided to assign three hospitals to receive, isolate, and treat anyone suspected of developing MERS. Accordingly, the Hospital for Tropical Diseases will receive adults with MERS symptoms, and the Pediatrics Hospital 1 and Pediatrics Hospital 2 will be in charge of children with MERS signs. All three clinics have been provided with equipment and medication to cope with the MERS epidemic, the department said, adding that these infirmaries have been required to review their epidemic prevention and control process, including measures to prevent cross-infection among their patients. People who have returned to Vietnam from MERS-stricken areas with fever and respiratory problems should visit their nearest health facilities for examination and consultancy, the department advised. Anybody with serious respiratory problems should visit one of the above three clinics for treatment, it added. A number of city-based hospitals will offer technical assistance to their counterparts in other southern localities so that they can receive and treat suspected MERS patients, limiting the transfer of such cases to the three above hospitals to avoid a possible patient overload, the department said. Based on the Ministry of Health’s epidemic supervision process, the department will set up procedures for the supervision of suspected MERS cases. Dr. Tang Chi Thuong, deputy director of the city health department, said, “As the Corona virus transmits from person to person, the first request for all hospitals is to strengthen measures to prevent infection between patients and health workers, and among health workers themselves.” “Unnecessary transfers of suspected MERS cases from hospital to hospital should be limited, and all infirmaries must reset the epidemic prevention process they previously applied in confronting the avian influenza in humans,” Dr. Thuong said. On Tuesday, the Hospital for Tropical Diseases conducted a training session for reception, examination, isolation, and treatment of MERS patients. During a working trip to Ho Chi Minh City last week, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long emphasized that the virus could possibly penetrate Vietnam as there is a strong flow of people to the Southeast Asian country from South Korea, and vice versa. South Korea said yesterday that the ninth person had died from MERS and another 13 had contracted the virus, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the country to 108, CNN reported on Wednesday. More than 2,800 people remain quarantined, either at home or in health facilities, according to CNN. South Korea's new cases bring the total number of MERS cases globally to 1,257 based on WHO data, with at least 448 related deaths, Reuters said today. The country has the second highest number of cases after Saudi Arabia, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Dr. Tran Dac Phu, head of the Vietnamese health ministry’s Health Preventive Department, noted that the incubation period of the disease is from two to 14 days, during which infected people will show no signs of infection. The disease transmits from ill people to others through close contact and has a mortality rate as high as 40 percent, Dr. Phu warned.


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