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Vietnam’s health ministry sets up hotline, runs training courses to cope with MERS

Vietnamese health authorities have opened a hotline and devised training courses for health workers to confront Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a health official has said.

Vietnamese health authorities have opened a hotline and devised training courses for health workers to confront Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a health official has said.
Vietnamese health authorities have opened a hotline and devised training courses for health workers to confront Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a health official has said.

The Ministry of Health’s Department for Medical Examination and Treatment Management has set up a hotline at 0984371919 for information related to MERS, which is caused by the coronavirus, said Luong Ngoc Khue, the department’s head.

The department has also planned five training courses in how to cope with the epidemic for about 750 doctors and nurses who are working in respiration, intensive resuscitation, testing and infection control, Khue said.

The first course is scheduled to open on Wednesday in the northern province of Thai Nguyen for 200 trainees, he added.

The official also advised that all hospitals should arrange examination rooms intended for suspected MERS patients to prevent the spread of the deadly virus, which can cause a mortality rate of about 40 percent.

The Hanoi Department of Health has also established a helpline in Vietnamese and English at 0969082115 and another in Korean at 0949396115 to provide advice on MERS.

Vietnam has yet to detect anyone infected with MERS, which first appeared in Saudi Arabia in 2012, but the virus may penetrate the Southeast Asian country via people who come from areas affected by the epidemic, including the Middle East and South Korea, according to the health ministry.

A total of 162 people in South Korea have been infected with MERS in an outbreak that began last month, the largest outside Saudi Arabia, and 20 of them have died, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

So far, Vietnam has had 10 suspected MERS cases, tests on which have proven negative, according to the Vietnamese health ministry.

Dr. Tran Dac Phu, head of the Vietnamese health ministry’s Health Preventive Department, noted that the disease transmits from ill people to others through close contact, such as caring for or living with an infected person.

The vast majority of MERS infections and deaths have been in Saudi Arabia, where more than 1,000 people have been infected since 2012, and about 454 have died, Reuters said.