Saigoneer

BackStories » Asia » Zika Likely to Spread to Northern Vietnam, Across Asia-Pacific

Zika Likely to Spread to Northern Vietnam, Across Asia-Pacific

Vietnam’s Ministry of Health confirmed two new Zika cases over the weekend, bringing the total number of nationwide cases since April to five.

According to Tuoi Tre, a woman from Binh Duong and a woman from Saigon were both diagnosed with Zika after seeking medical attention. Neither woman reported having traveled or been in contact with other Zika patients.

As a result, local health authorities are monitoring areas near each patient’s home and have found no symptoms in other neighborhood residents, the health ministry’s General Department of Preventive Medicine told Tuoi Tre.

So far, Vietnam has diagnosed Zika patients in Saigon, Binh Duong, Nha Trang and Phu Yen. Four foreigners have also reported contracting the virus after visiting the country.

While the General Department of Preventive Medicine claims Vietnam’s Zika virus is less infectious and less likely to cause microcephaly than the Zika virus found in the Americas, VnExpress reports that experts believe Zika may spread to Hanoi and other parts of northern Vietnam in future.

In the capital, 55 suspected patients have tested negative for Zika, Deputy Director Hoang Duc Hanh of Hanoi’s Health Department told VnExpress, but health officials warn there is a high chance of exposure to so-called “silent carriers” in Vietnam, or those infected with Zika who show no symptoms of the illness.

“From now until November, the course of dengue fever may become complicated and the Zika virus may also appear in Hanoi,” Hanh told the news outlet.

When it comes to the spread of Zika, Vietnam is not the only Southeast Asian nation preparing for more cases. According to Channel News Asia, Singapore has already reported hundreds of cases, while two Thai babies were born with Zika-linked microcephaly late last month. The virus is now present in 70 countries worldwide, including 19 Asia-Pacific nations.

Moving forward, a World Health Organization report released earlier this month predicted more Zika cases for the region.

"It is highly likely that the region will continue to report new cases and possibly new outbreaks of Zika," the report said, according to Channel News Asia.

Health officials across the region are now worrying about how to prevent further spread of the virus. Up north, Vietnamese health officials have set up quarantine zones and are installing two body temperature monitors at Noi Bai International Airport.

[Photo via ABC]


Related Articles:

Ministry of Health Confirms First 2 Zika Cases in Vietnam

Health Officials Declare Zika Outbreak Over in D2 Ward

Thailand Reports First Cases of Zika-Linked Microcephaly in Southeast Asia