Vietnam raises warning level for Zika virus

by NDO/VNA25 March 2016 Last updated at 14:47 PM - Vietnam has raised the warning level for the Zika virus following the information about an Australian visitor who tested positive for Zika after returning from the Southeast Asian nation.

The World Health Organisation (WHO)’s International Health Regulations (IHR) agency informed Vietnam’s national agency for IHR implementation about the case on March 22, said the Vietnamese Ministry of Health’s Department of Preventive Medicine.

The Australian visitor stayed in Vietnam from February 26 to March 6 and travelled to Ho Chi Minh City, Lam Dong, Khanh Hoa and Binh Thuan provinces during that time. After returning to Australia, the person showed some symptoms of Zika infection including fever, rash, headache, muscle pain, conjunctivitis and nausea.

Also on March 22, the Vietnamese IHR agency and the Health Ministry’s emergency operations centre contacted the WHO agency and Australia IHR to ask for more detailed information about the Zika-positive person’s activities in Vietnam.

The health ministry does not exclude the possibility that the Australian contracted the virus before arriving in or after leaving Vietnam.

The Preventive Medicine Department noted shortly after receiving the WHO agency’s notification, the ministry sent staff to Khanh Hoa and Binh Thuan to make verification and instruct tightening Zika prevention measures.

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long ordered medical establishments in the four localities to increase Zika testing as persons with the mosquito-borne virus could show light or no symptoms. He also asked for stronger communications to guide the public in how to prevent mosquitos and mosquito larvae.

According to the WHO, 59 countries and territories have recorded Zika virus so far. Some foreigners after leaving several Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia were also reported to test positive for Zika.

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