Channel NewsAsia

Vietnam, Myanmar test patients for Ebola

Vietnam and Myanmar are testing three patients for the deadly Ebola virus after they arrived in the Southeast Asian nations from Africa suffering fever, health officials said.

HANOI: Vietnam and Myanmar are testing three patients for the deadly Ebola virus after they arrived in the Southeast Asian nations from Africa suffering fever, health officials said.

Two Nigerians were sent to Ho Chi Minh City's Tropical Diseases Hospital for isolation after they arrived in the city by plane, Vietnam's health ministry said, adding that they did not have symptoms other than fever. Airline passengers sitting next to the pair - who travelled to Vietnam on Monday (Aug 18) from Nigeria via Qatar - have been advised to monitor their health.

In Myanmar, a 22-year-old local man was taken to hospital in Yangon after arriving at the city's main airport on Tuesday, the Myanmar Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention said in a statement on its official Facebook page. It said he is believed to have returned from Guinea, having also travelled to Liberia, two of the countries worst hit by the Ebola outbreak.

"Samples were sent to a WHO (World Health Organization) recognised laboratory to check whether or not Ebola was present," the statement said. It added that four people who accompanied the man to hospital were also being kept under observation although they have not shown signs of illness. 

The hospital told Channel NewsAsia that the 22-year-old man has been running a temperature of 37.2 degrees Celsius, and it is "not worried" about his condition as he has been eating.

"We have to send the samples to India for laboratory testing to see whether it is Ebola or not. The process will take three to four days," Tun Tin, deputy director of the ministry of health, told AFP. He added that authorities were working closely with the World Health Organization.

The health ministry added it will clean the plane which the passengers arrived in, as well as the airport terminal, as preventative measures. It also said it will monitor the airport staff. The flight in question was MAI 8M-332.

The global death toll from Ebola stands at 1,229, with the bulk of cases in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The medical charity MSF has said the outbreak is moving faster than aid organisations can handle, while the World Health Organization said the scale of the epidemic had been vastly underestimated.

Myanmar, which began emerging from harsh junta rule in 2011, has one of the world's worst funded and poorly equipped healthcare systems, with many people cut off from even basic medical help. The country's health ministry confirmed the CDC statement, released late Tuesday, but gave no further update.

Vietnam has introduced mandatory temperature checks at its two major international airports in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to try to prevent passengers bringing the deadly virus into the country.