Vietnam health minister visits HFMD-affected province

TN News

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Vietnam's Health Minister on Saturday visited areas in central Vietnam affected with hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD).

During her visit at Ninh Thuan, Nguyen Thi Kim Tien called for washing hands clean with soap and inspected HFMD treatments at the province general hospital, news website VietNamNet reported.

Since May 2011, the disease has infected at least 90,189 people in all cities and provinces nationwide. Of that number, 153 died, mostly children under 5 years old.

The minister told Saigon Tiep Thi in an interview late October that there's no more instructions for the disease that the government could give and "the first thing to do is people have to protect themselves."

Ninh Thuan is among the provinces with the highest fatality and infection rate in Vietnam, including four infected adults in October, half the national total at the time.

These adults did not show symptoms and created unnoticed risks in spreading the disease.

The province was the first locality to announce the disease had reached a pandemic level on November 7, while minister Tien said in October that a national pandemic has not been announced because the World Health Organization has not made a similar move.

Ninh Thuan has also been the core of a recent HFMD debate, as the Pasteur Institute in Nha Trang, around 50 kilometers from Ninh Thuan, rejected a treatment by Hanoi-based physicist Nguyen Van Khai, that required infected children to drink an anolyte solution.

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Khai said the solution would cure the disease in one week, but his method was stopped after just one day, on November 12.

Vien Quang Mai, deputy head of the institute that said the method was dangerous and unscientific, accompanied the minister on her visit.

As of Thursday, November 17, Ninh Thuan reported 645 infected cases, with four dead, making the death over infection rate in the province almost four times higher than the national rate of 0.17 percent.

Nearly 200 new infections were reported in the province in the past 10 days.

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