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Vietnam monitoring health of visitors from six Ebola-hit African countries

Wednesday, October 15, 2014, 10:53 GMT+7
Vietnam monitoring health of visitors from six Ebola-hit African countries
Health workers remove the body a woman who died from the Ebola virus in the Aberdeen district of Freetown, Sierra Leone, October 14, 2014.

All passengers arriving in Vietnam from six Ebola-hit African countries are now required to fill out health declaration forms upon entry, the Vietnamese Ministry of Health has said.

>> WHO to assist Vietnam in testing for deadly Ebola virus>> Vietnam applies health declaration sooner to visitors from Ebola-hit area >> Vietnam takes precautions against killer Ebola epidemic>> Vietnam to apply health declaration to visitors from Ebola-hit area from Aug 15 These countries include Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, Congo and Senegal. The health declaration was first applied in August to the first four of the above the countries.The health declaration will be applied to anyone who has been out of the west African nations for less than 21 days before arriving in Vietnam, the ministry said.

This time period was established as the disease has an incubation period ranging from two to 21 days, the ministry explained. The U.S. and Spain  recorded their first Ebola cases over the last few weeks, but the procedure has yet to be applied to visitors coming to Vietnam from those two countries. In the U.S., 26-year-old Nina Pham, a nurse of Vietnamese origin who works for Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Texas, was confirmed to have contracted the virus after she took care of an Ebola patient from Liberia, Thomas Eric Duncan, who died on October 8 at the hospital, the ministry said. The U.S.’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it is clarifying how the virus was transmitted from the patient to Pham, one of 50 health workers who were assigned to take care of the patient.     The CDC said the transmission could have resulted from a mistake committed by the Vietnamese-American nurse during her care for Duncan. This is the second confirmed case of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the U.S., the ministry said. In order to detect and confirm EVD cases rapidly, the ministry said it is verifying its laboratories to make sure they are qualified in terms of biological safety. At a press conference in Hanoi on August 12, Masaya Kato, the World Health Organization (WHO)’s communicable disease coordinator, said the WHO will provide technical assistance for Vietnam to carry out molecular tests. Unlike many other countries that send samples to five laboratories associated with the WHO for testing for the virus, Vietnam wants such tests to be done locally, so the global health body will provide assistance to the country, Kato said. No sign of an Ebola infection has been found in Vietnam so far, the ministry said. Relevant agencies in Vietnam, including authorities at the international airports in Hanoi, Da Nang City and Ho Chi Minh City, are taking necessary measures to prevent the arrival of EVD, which could be brought in by visitors from countries where the virus has spread. According to the WHO, the death toll from the current EVD outbreak increased to 4,447 people on Tuesday, nearly all of them in West Africa, from 8,914 cases. Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have been hardest-hit by the outbreak, the WHO said. Ebola is a highly dangerous virus that can kill up to 90 percent of infected people, the Vietnamese Ministry of Health warned, adding that EVD is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids or tissues of infected animals or people.

As a severe acute viral illness, EVD is often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat, according to the WHO.

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