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Singapore couple opens home to pregnant women in Zika-affected areas

by September 5, 2016 General

Besson with her husband and their baby. — Picture courtesy of Leonie BessonBesson with her husband and their baby. — Picture courtesy of Leonie BessonSINGAPORE, Sept 5 — When teacher Leonie Besson heard about the Zika outbreak and the risks the virus poses to pregnant women, she decided to take matters into her own hands and open her home to expectant mothers in affected areas.

In a Facebook post last week, she made an open offer for pregnant strangers and their partners to stay in her house for the time being.

“If anyone knows of a pregnant couple in (a) Zika-affected area (who) need somewhere high-rise to stay, walking distance to shops and supermarket … please let me know.”

“Free use” of the kitchen and a “room with air-con and bed” will be included.

Speaking to TODAY about the offer, which has yet to be taken up, Besson said that having a 10-month-old son herself influenced her decision.

“I was just thinking back to this time last year when I was pregnant. Being pregnant is already such a time to worry: Whether you’re eating right, whether your baby has Down Syndrome,” said the 30-year-old.

“I was just imagining what pregnant women feel right now, and I had this idea. We’ve an extra room, and I’ve never been bitten by a mosquito in my house. Someone might need a room somewhere, and we have that extra space.”

So far, the Health Ministry has announced that two pregnant women have been infected with Zika, which carries a low risk of foetuses being born with microcephaly, a condition that results in babies born with abnormally small heads.

Home for Besson is a five-room flat on the 13th storey in Pasir Ris, occupied by her, her husband and her baby. The room she is offering is furnished with a pull-out bed.

She said her husband, too, felt it was a good idea, and her baby loves new faces. Asked about the risks involved in bringing a stranger home, Besson said she would meet interested parties and chat with them first.

“I didn’t really consider the risks. We’ve got nothing to steal. We’re very simple people, and we’re just a couple with a young baby … trying to help another couple having a baby. It’s common decency,” she said.

But she also emphasised that this was a temporary solution for those who are extra worried “and their houses don’t have air-con, they can’t close all the windows and they live on a lower floor”.

She hopes more people will offer similar help to pregnant women in need during this period. — TODAY