The first influenza A case was detected in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai Tuesday as the Health Ministry reported 31 new cases nationwide, raising the country's tally to 703.
Dau Hoang Anh, 17, a student of Nguyen Khuyen Private High School in Ho Chi Minh City, returned home to Gia Lai last Thursday for the summer vacation.
The school on Tuesday reported 13 infections among students in the city. It was closed last Thursday after several students caught the flu, also known as swine flu.
Three new H1N1 cases were reported in the Mekong Delta's Tien Giang Province Tuesday, including two students of the Nguyen Khuyen High School coming home for the summer.
Trinh Quan Huan, deputy minister of health, said 23 cities and provinces nationwide have reported A (H1N1) patients as of Tuesday.
HCMC health officials on Tuesday said a further 15 residents of the Phu My Hung Urban Area, which accommodates many foreigners and overseas Vietnamese, had caught the H1N1 flu after only six cases were reported on Monday.
Vietnam has not reported any deaths since the first swine flu patient was detected at the end of May. Of the afflicted, 386 patients have fully recovered.
Le Anh Tuan, director of the Hanoi Health Department, on Tuesday told Vietnam News Agency the spread of H1N1 virus in the capital was still under control.
But he warned of high risks of severe outbreaks as several schools will open for the new school year on August 17.
The department has suggested teachers and students in the city be trained to prevent and fight the flu, and advised all local schools to cooperate with the nearest health centers for timely interventions in controlling the spread of the virus.
Following the disease spreading at the community-level, especially at schools in HCMC, the H1N1 Prevention Steering Committee of Hanoi has asked the capital city's Health Department to coordinate with schools in the city to closely monitor the disease at schools and prepare preventive measures.
The Hanoi Center of Preventive Health has held training programs on influenza A (H1N1) prevention for medical schools.
The city's Department of Education and Training has also mapped out plans to fight and prevent the spread of the virus.
ââ‚¬Å“We consider H1N1 prevention an important duty of our sector at this time. We are focusing on organizing training programs on disease prevention for teachers and students.
Before the new school year, schools have to tidy up,ââ‚¬ said the department's Deputy Director Nguyen Huu Hien.
Schools can call the department via the hotline number 04-941 1232 to inform of any influenza A (H1N1) situation.
The Vietnam Military Epidemic Institute has stepped in to deal with the H1N1 infection at the Viettel Telecom building in Hanoi, where one employee tested positive for the virus on Saturday.
The institute has sterilized the building and positioned staff to prevent a possible spread of the disease among the community.
Swine flu patients in Hanoi are being treated at the National Institute of Infectious and Tropical Diseases but some district hospitals such as Dong Da, Thang Long and Duc Giang will be turned into temporary clinics when the number of patients increases beyond the institute's capacity.
Nguyen Hong Ha, deputy director of the institute, said in case the number of patients increases rapidly, lightly affected patients could be treated at home under the guidance of the Center for Preventive Health to avoid overloading at hospitals.
ââ‚¬Å“When the number of patients gets bigger, health agencies will face difficulties in testing the virus, as its cost is high. Each test costs millions of dong, and testing capacities are limited,ââ‚¬ Ha noted.
In related news, the US government has funded communes in the Mekong Delta's Can Tho City and Hung Yen Province in the north to recognize and respond to the threat of avian and swine flu pandemics in humans and poultry through simulations of outbreaks in their areas.
The project, implemented by ABT Associates, one of the largest for-profit government and business research and consulting firms, works with selected communities to develop effective and sustainable intervention models in the areas of community-based surveillance, bio-security, case management and infection control.
The project has strengthened networks of animal health workers to improve behavior and communication, facilitating early detection and response.
Since 2005, the US government has provided more than US$33.5 million to support Vietnam's programs to combat avian influenza.
Swine flu has so far infected 163,789 people in 145 countries and territories, killing 998, VNA reported Tuesday, citing the European Center of Disease Prevention and Control.
More countries in Southeast Asia have reported H1N1 deaths including Thailand, Laos, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.