Vietnam city to examine visitors for new bird flu virus

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Ducks are transported in northern Vietnam, where there's a high risk of catching new bird flu viruses from China due to fowl smuggling across border. Photo: Reuters

Visitors coming to Ho Chi Minh City from areas infected by the new bird flu virus strain H7N9 will be examined upon entrance and quarantined if showing signs of contagious conditions.

The new statement by the city government and health department ordered higher surveillance for early discovery of any infection of the new virus, which was first detected in China in March last year and has killed more than 30 percent of its patients, Thoi bao Kinh te Saigon (Saigon Times) Online has reported. Some of around 60 victims died after coming back from mainland China.

The city hall asked medical staffs to closely observe people with severe respiratory inflammation, especially those coming from infected areas.

Samples can be taken for testing, it said.

The city’s agriculture department was also asked to keep tabs on local fowls.

Vietnam’s health and argriculture officials have voiced concern over the new virus, as the new 14 deaths since the beginning of this year included those in the southern region and close to Vietnam.

They also said the risk of infection was high as the smuggling of ducks and chickens across the border has been increasing for the coming Tet (Lunar New Year festival), which peaks this Friday.

Officials said H7N9 is hard to detect because it does not manifest itself in the birds that carry it, unlike the H5N1 virus that sickens or kills affected fowls. Over the years, H5N1 has killed 62 people in Vietnam in total.

Two other flu virus strains have also been detected on humans for the first time in China, including H10N8 in December and H9N2 this month.

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