Vietnam acts after global alert over new SARS-like virus

TN News

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Vietnam's Health Ministry has ordered heightened surveillance and checks at all border areas for a SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome)-like virus, the VnExpress news website reported Thursday.

It said that the ministry's order followed recent World Health Organization (WHO) reports of two cases of a coronavirus that comes from the same family as the SARS virus that killed 800 people around the world in 2002.

Under the ministry's latest order, local health authorities have to increase checks at border areas and take blood samples from sick people.

Although WHO has yet to recommend travel restrictions, the Health Ministry is advising that people who have just returned from areas where infections have been recorded to take preventive measures, and inform local health agencies so that their health is put under observation.

Meanwhile, the Department of Preventive Health has asked people to take measures to prevent common diseases like flu and respiratory inflammation during the winter spring season in Vietnam by washing hands with anti-bacterial soap after sneezing and coughing, and using antiseptic solutions for throats and noses.

Those who have fever, cough and sore throat need to wear face masks and take treatment at local health clinics immediately, the news website quoted the department as saying.

On Sunday, WHO issued a global warning against the respiratory virus after British health officials concluded that a 49-year-old Qatari has been infected by it.

WHO said the man started showing symptoms of an acute respiratory infection on September 3 when he was in Qatar. He was later flown to the UK, where he is currently receiving intensive care for the respiratory infection and kidney failure.

The man had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia, where another man who had already died was identified to have almost the same virus by a laboratory in the Netherlands early this year, according to the WHO.

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