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Vietnamese woman returning from abroad with fever tests negative for MERS

Tuesday, June 16, 2015, 16:01 GMT+7

A young Vietnamese woman suspected of developing Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has tested negative for the deadly coronavirus after she returned from abroad with a high fever, local health authorities confirmed on Wednesday. The woman, L.N.B.P., 23, an overseas Vietnamese student in Houston, Texas, who had a fever of 40.8 degrees Celsius when she returned to Vietnam on June 7 from the U.S., with a transit period of 16 hours in MERS-stricken South Korea. P., a native of the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho, also suffered a cold shiver, headache and difficult urination but she did not feel hard to breathe and cough upon returning that day. She was taken to Can Tho City General Hospital for treatment and doctors diagnosed her with acute respiratory inflammation suspected to be caused by MERS. Doctors then sent P.’s sample to the Ho Chi Minh City Pasteur Institute for testing and on June 9, the institute confirmed that the woman tested negative for the coronavirus that causes MERS, which has spread to 26 countries in the world. The patient is still being treated in isolation at the hospital and she can eat and drink normally, doctors said. In order to cope with the MERS epidemic, the Can Tho City Health Department has directed the Preventive Health Center to strengthen health quarantine at Can Tho International Airport and seaports to detect signs of the deadly virus. The department also asked all hospitals to keep an eye on MERS signs among patients with acute respiratory inflammation to timely isolate them for treatment and send their samples out for testing for the coronavirus.  So far, Vietnam has had 10 suspected MERS cases and their tests have proved negative, according to the Vietnamese Ministry of Health. South Korea’s health ministry on Thursday reported 14 new cases of MERS, taking the total to 122 in an outbreak that is the largest outside Saudi Arabia, Reuters reported the same day.  As of Wednesday, the global number of MERS cases had increased to 1,257 based on WHO data, with at least 448 related deaths, according to Reuters. In such a context, Vietnam’s health authorities have recommended that people limit travel to epidemic-hit countries.  Many Vietnamese tourist companies have also canceled tours to South Korea. 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, such as caring for or living with an infected person, and the mortality rate is as high as 40 percent, Dr. Phu warned.

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