Viet Nam

Action plan for prevention and control of MERS-CoV in Vietnam

Action plan for prevention and control of MERS-CoV in Vietnam

MERS-CoV is a viral respiratory illness that is caused by a novel coronavirus first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. As of early September 2014, MERS-CoV has been reported in 22 countries.

MERS-CoV is a zoonotic virus that is likely to have spread from animals to humans. In humans, the virus can spread from ill people to others, mostly through close contact. Most people who have been confirmed to have MERS-CoV infection have developed severe acute respiratory illness, with symptoms including fever, cough and severe pneumonia that can quickly lead to acute respiratory failure. In addition, some ill people may have symptoms such as diarrhea. This disease can cause organ failure, especially kidney failure, leading to a high risk of mortality.

The Action plan provides an update on the MERS-CoV disease situation in the world and in Viet Nam in particular. As of early September, Viet Nam has not recorded any case of MERS-CoV. Nevertheless, regarding the circumstances and epidemiological characteristics of the disease, there is a risk that it could be transmitted into Viet Nam, potentially resulting in a large outbreak in the community if preventive measure are not implemented actively. Thus, a plan to prevent and control the epidemic is essential.

The general objectiveof the Action plan is early detection of any MERS-CoV cases and a timely response in order to prevent the disease from spreading and to minimize the mortality risk.

The specific objectivesdeveloped according to different disease scenarios include:

- Scenario 1: No MERS-CoV cases detected in Viet Nam

Early detection of any initial cases reaching Viet Nam or emerging in the community, in order to apply strict response measures, avoiding transmission in the community and to medical staff.

- Scenario 2: Detection of MERS-CoV cases in Viet Nam

To contain and handle disease outbreaks in a timely and strict manner in order to minimize transmission in the community.

- Scenario 3: A widespread outbreak in the community.

To quickly respond by containing and handling disease outbreaks in a strict and timely manner in order to minimize disease transmission in the community.

The Ministry of Health identifies the main activities to be carried out based on the different scenarios, related to direction and supervision, prevention and control, treatment, communications, logistics and international cooperation activities. In addition, instruction on countermeasures for each scenario are provided.

In the first place, when no MERS-CoV case has been reported, the MoH will concentrate its resources on strengthening supervision over acute respiratory infections of unknown cause and other suspected cases at all medical centers. In addition, MOH also suggests several technical measures as follows:

- Medical declarations will be required at international border gates, taking into account the situation in Viet Nam and in accordance with international practices;

- Guidelines on surveillance and prevention of MERS-CoV will be regularly updated; epidemiological investigations will be conducted to identify sources of exposure and transmission in order to plan and undertake appropriate prevention measures;

- Individual protective measures will be implemented for health workers in medical centers in order to avoid transmission of infection from patients.

- The operations of mobile teams to fight the epidemic in the local health units will be consolidated and strengthened;

- Communication campaigns will advocate people to implement preventive measures for MERS-CoV;

- Working groups will be established to examine preparedness for disease prevention at the local level before, during and after the outbreak.

- A reserve fund, chemicals, medicines and medical equipment for timely implementation of countermeasures to the epidemic at the local level will be put in place; and

- Diagnostic capacity will be strengthened.