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Singapore steps up action against Zika


08-31-2016 00:18 BJT

Authorities in Singapore say they have identified 15 more Zika virus infections that were transmitted locally. That takes the total number of confirmed cases to 56.

The 15 new cases identified are in the same Aljunied and Sims Drive area in the south-east of the island, where authorities had previously identified 41 cases of Zika virus infection. This brings the total number of people who have been locally infected to 56.

Singapore’s National Environment Agency has deployed more than 200 people to the affected area, where they sprayed insecticide and cleaned drains.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health warns more cases are likely to be uncovered and is advising mothers-to-be to avoid affected areas.

The most vulnerable group of people for Zika are pregnant ladies, as the virus can be dangerous for unborn children. Around 1 percent to 13 percent of women infected while pregnant could give birth to babies with smaller heads – a condition known as microcephaly – and other brain defects.

"I’m very worried about it. So I actually asked my doctor about what is the appropriate insect repellent. He actually gives me some brands that are appropriate for pregnant women," Expectant mother Faizah said.

"We definitely consider a blood test. We definitely want to be sure of, so that we don‘t have the risk of passing it on to the baby. We definitely want to check it," Expectant mother Parnita said.

Local health authorities and medical specialists advice pregnant women to wear long-sleeved clothing, use mosquito repellent, sleep in air-conditioned rooms and avoid travel to areas with local transmission of the Zika virus.

Australia, UK and Taiwan have issued travel notices, advising women who are pregnant or planning to conceive not to travel to Singapore and other travellers to take precautions against mosquito bites. Singapore’s closest neighbor Malaysia has set up thermal scanners at its check points. However, with up to 200,000 people move daily across the boarder with Singapore, the Malaysian health authorities believe it’s just a matter of time before Zika cases are detected in the country.

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