A quarantine officer checks the body temperature of a passenger as they walk past a thermal imaging camera at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, June 2, 2015. Photo: Reuters
Vietnam has started to require visitors from South Korea to fill in medical history forms after their country reported two deaths from the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
The Health Ministry issued the order after an urgent meeting Tuesday amid the rapid spread of the viral disease in South Korea, which reported its first infection ten days ago, local media reported.
Reports from international media showed that the country has confirmed 25 infections of MERS-CoV. It reported the first patient on May 20. The 68-years-old fell sick after visiting Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
The dead patients were a 58-year-old woman and a 71-year-old man, who had received treatment and medical support.
MERS is similar to the virus that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which emerged in China in 2002-2003 and killed some 800 people in 30 countries, including five in Vietnam.
It was first detected in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
At least 26 countries have reported cases of the virus and the World Health Organization has been notified of more than 400 deaths out of 1,154 confirmed cases.
Vietnam's Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said the virus is spreading fast in South Korea despite its advanced health care facilities, which is very concerning given its strong transport links with Vietnam.
Figures from the ministry showed that more than 23,000 people from countries with reported MERS infections have entered Vietnam through Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat airports this year.
Officials said the spreading of the virus into Vietnam it "totally possible."
The ministry has also added Bahrain to the list of countries whose travelers need to fill in medical declarations in Vietnam. The list includes nine Middle East countries.
Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien recommended Vietnamese not to travel to the Middle East now except for emergency purposes.
“Those coming from there and South Korea have to report to medical centers once they feel something abnormal.”