Coronavirus has spread to Southeast Asia with two cases being detected in Malaysia and the Philippines. Photo courtesy of VnExpress/Emirates
Health inspectors in Vietnam will boost screening at airports for the Middle East respiratory syndrome corona virus, which has killed more than 90 people worldwide.
The Vietnamese health ministry has instructed its staff to monitor arrival passengers’ temperatures. Those passengers who have high temperature and respiratory inflammation will be tested and possibly placed under quarantine, the ministry said.
The virus is similar to the one that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which emerged in China in 2002-2003 and killed some 800 people. It was first detected in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
Although the vast majority of MERS cases have been in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East, the discovery of sporadic cases in Britain, Greece, France, Italy, Malaysia and elsewhere have raised concerns about the potential global spread of the disease by infected airline passengers.
So far, 262 people in 12 countries have been confirmed to have MERS infections and have been reported to the World Health Organization. Of those, 93 have died.
According to WHO, the occurrence of new cases seems to follow a seasonal pattern, with increasing incidence from March and April onwards.
The number of cases sharply increased since mid-March 2014, essentially in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, where two important health careassociated outbreaks have been occurring.
The number of cases who acquired the infection in the community has also increased since mid-March. As much as 75 percent of the recently reported cases appeared to be secondary cases, meaning that they were considered to have acquired the infection from another infected person.
The majority of these secondary cases were mainly healthcare workers who had been infected within the healthcare setting and presented with no or minor symptoms, according to WHO.