Visitors from South Korea entering Vietnam from August 15, 2015 onward will no longer be required to fill out MERS-CoV health declarations, the Vietnamese Ministry of Health said in a decision issued on Wednesday. MERS-CoV is the abbreviation for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, which has effected 1,400 people in the world, including South Korea, and killed at least 500 of them since it first appeared in April 2012 in Saudi Arabia, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The decision will take effect at midnight on Saturday (August 15), the ministry said. This move was made after the WHO said that as of August 10, 2015, South Korea had not reported any new MERS-CoV patients for 36 consecutive days. On July 28, Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn announced that the epidemic had ended in the country, and many other nations later lifted their recommendation that limited their citizens from traveling to South Korea. MERS-CoV had affected 186 people in the East Asian country since May 26 and killed 36 of them, the premier said. On July 1, 2014, the Vietnamese Ministry of Health began applying a rule that all people flying to Vietnam from countries affected by MERS-CoV be required to fill out health declaration forms before entering the Southeast Asian nation. Under the rule, visitors from nine Middle Eastern countries including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, Kuwait, Lebanon, Jordan and Iran are required to make health declarations as a procedure for their entry. The list was later extended to include South Korea. Yesterday the Vietnamese health ministry requested that provinces and cities continue to implement MERS-CoV health declarations for passengers from epidemic-stricken countries in the Middle East.
The ministry also ordered all health departments in provinces and cities nationwide to update information on the epidemic and the list of countries still affected by the disease. Vietnam has yet to detect anyone infected with MERS-CoV, but the virus may penetrate the country via people who come from areas stricken by the epidemic, the ministry said. Dr. Tran Dac Phu, head of the 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. Anyone with symptoms of the syndrome, such as fever, coughing, or difficulty breathing, is highly recommended to go to medical facilities for examinations and treatment, he added.