Vietnamese health authorities have announced they are keeping themselves updated on reports of patients contracting viral pneumonia in a central Chinese province, which many speculate could be linked to SARS, a flu-like virus that killed hundreds of people a decade ago.
Vietnam’s Ministry of Health on Thursday cited information from the General Department of Preventive Medicine, saying that 27 patients are currently being examined after showing symptoms similar to severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in Wuhan City in China’s central province of Hubei.
All of the cases had been reported as unexplained pneumonia in December 2019.
Of the 27 reported cases, seven are currently in a critical condition and 18 are stable.
As the Chinese National Health Commission is “currently conducting relevant inspection and verification work,” neither obvious human-to-human transmission has been indentified nor has any medical staff been infected.
Initial laboratory tests have only shown the cases to be viral pneumonia.
“We have contacted the World Health Organization for details about the virus,” Dang Quang Tan, deputy director of the General Department of Preventive Medicine, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
“The cause of severe pneumonia in seven patients in China is unknown, but if it is due to the suspected SARS virus, this could be the first dangerous signs of the virus since its last appearance in late 2002 and early 2003,” Tan said.
However, Tan also reassured that people should remain calm as SARS can be tested immediately and effective treatment is available.
In 2003, SARS spread quickly and infected more than 8,000 people, claiming 916 lives worldwide, mostly due to a lack of knowledge about the disease.
SARS symptoms are similar to those of other acute respiratory infections.
The disease is thought to have originated in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, according to WHO.
Unlike normal acute respiratory infections, the severity of SARS and its mortality rate are high, as it can be passed from person to person, putting healthcare workers at high risk.
Vietnam reported a total of 63 SARS cases and five deaths in 2003, WHO said.