Vietnam has instructed major healthcare establishments nationwide to strengthen precautionary measures against the spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) after a second case of the virus was detected in Thailand last week.
The Hanoi-based National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology and the Institute Pasteur in Ho Chi Minh City have been asked to monitor suspected cases, and be ready to support other provinces when needed.
The two institutes will also take body fluid samples from the network of control points for flu and acute pneumonia for tests in an attempt to early identify MERS patients.
MERS was first identified in humans in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and the majority of cases have been in the Middle East.
Local health departments have been asked to conduct screenings for MERS at airports and border gates, and monitor any people with respiratory illnesses in the community.
Reuters quoted the World Health Organization as saying in its latest update on Jan. 7 it has been notified of 1,626 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS from 26 countries, and at least 586 related deaths.
MERS is caused by a coronavirus from the same family as the one that triggered China's deadly 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
There is currently no vaccine available to protect people from MERS.