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Zika cases rise to 151 in Singapore

by September 2, 2016 General

Singapore, Sep 2 (IANS) Thirty-one new cases of Zika have been confirmed in Singapore, raising to 151 the number of persons infected by the mosquito-borne virus in the Southeast Asian city-state, the government said on Friday.

The new cases include a second pregnant woman in Singapore diagnosed with Zika. Like the first case, which was confirmed on Wednesday, the woman is living in the Sims Drive-Aljunied Crescent cluster, authorities said.

Three of the new victims, not linked to any existing infection clusters, live in Tagore Avenue, Yishun Street 81 and Harvey Crescent, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a joint statement.

NEA said that vector control remains key to reducing the spread of the Zika virus. “NEA takes a systematic and holistic approach to arrest mosquito borne transmission in Singapore, through surveillance, prevention and control, outbreak management and outreach. The objective is to keep mosquito-borne disease incidence low through reducing the mosquito population and breaking the disease transmission chain.”

This is similar to its approach to dengue cases, NEA said.

An additional five cases were detected as a result of MOH’s look-back testing of previous cases. A total of 236 samples were taken, of which 52 tested positive, and 184 were negative.

Authorities are carrying out indoor spraying, misting and oiling, and daily misting of common areas to prevent breeding of mosquitoes. Two rounds of thermal fogging have been completed and another round is to be conducted this week.

As of Wednesday, 57 reported cases are among foreign construction workers, including 13 Indians, based in the residential Aljunied Crescent neighbourhood in Singapore were reported.

NEA added that its officers and grassroots volunteers have completed outreach efforts to distribute Zika information leaflets in the Aljunied Crescent/Sims Drive cluster, and have begun their outreach in the expanded cluster areas in Paya Lebar Way/Kallang Way.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday warned that Singapore “must assume Zika is elsewhere in (the country)” apart from Aljunied and Bedok, where the majority of cases so far have been, Channel News Asia reported.

On Thursday, Malaysia confirmed that its first Zika case was a woman who had travelled to Singapore.

The Zika virus is transmitted mainly by Aedes mosquitoes, and has been linked to microcephaly and other birth defects thus putting pregnant women at risk, according to the World Health Organization. The virus can also be spread through sexual transmission.