Vietnamese health authorities have monitored 242 people who entered Vietnam from Ebola-infected areas in Africa, the Health Ministry announced at a conference in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday.
“The threat of Ebola spreading to Vietnam remains real because many Vietnamese nationals are working in African countries, including those suffering from the Ebola outbreak,” said Dang Quang Tan, deputy director of Preventive Health Department. "Many international visitors from these countries also visit Vietnam."
Since Vietnam began screening international visitors on August 11, health agencies have monitored a total of 242 people--including 40 Vietnamese nationals--most of whom arrived from the four countries stricken with the disease: Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria.
Of the total people being monitored, 190 have been cleared; 52 remain under a 21-day quarantine. No one has been found with the virus, so far.
According to the Preventive Health Department, Vietnam is building two labs for testing Ebola at the Pasteur Institute in HCMC and Hanoi-based Institute for Epidemiology and Hygiene.
Tan rejected rumors that the Ebola virus has become airborne.
“It is only transmitted through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of the infected patient or animal,” he told reporters.
He also warned about the preventive measures medical staff and residents can take.
“Health workers should be properly equipped when caring for possible cases and people should avoid visiting infected zones if possible,” he said.
During the conference, the Ministry of Public Security said it would strictly punish anyone caught spreading misinformation about the disease and enforce compulsory quarantines on any person or community suspected of carrying the virus.
At least 6,574 people have been infected with Ebola in Africa since the outbreak began in early March.
Of those cases, 3,091 have proven fatal.
On September 30, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the first travel-related case of Ebola had arrived in the United State.
The victims was a person who had traveled to Dallas, Texas from West Africa.
The patient did not exhibit symptoms when he or she left West Africa, but developed symptoms approximately five days after arriving in the US.
The person sought medical care at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas after developing symptoms consistent with Ebola. Based on the person’s travel history and symptoms, CDC recommended testing for Ebola.
Doctors isolated the patient and sent specimens to the CDC and a Texas lab participating in CDC’s Laboratory Response Network.
Local public health officials have begun identifying individuals who came into close contact with the person to place them under 21-day quarantines the CDC announced.