A contractor fogs a condominium garden in Singapore in an effort to kill mosquitoes, September 5, 2013.
Singapore recorded 41 cases of locally transmitted Zika virus, mostly among foreign construction workers, and said it expected more cases to be identified.
The Health Ministry and National Environment Agency in a statement yesterday saidall but seven of those infected had fully recovered. The seven remain in hospital.
The report comes after authorities confirmed a 47-year-old Malaysian woman living in southeastern Singapore as the city-state’s first case of a local transmission of the virus. She also happens to be the only female out of the batch of 41 that has been infected with the virus.
Zika, carried by some mosquitoes, was detected in Brazil last year and has since spread across the Americas. The virus poses a risk to pregnant women because it can cause severe birth defects. It has been linked in Brazil to more than 1,600 cases of microcephaly, where babies are born with small heads.
Singaporean authorities said they tested 124 people, primarily foreign construction workers employed on a site in the same part of Singapore. That site has been ordered to halt work, and workers’ dormitories are being inspected. Seventy-eight people tested negative and five cases were pending. Thirty-four patients had fully recovered.
Four Singaporean men had developed symptoms of the virus in the past week and were hospitalized on Saturday. It was not clear where the foreign workers were from or when their cases were detected. Singapore hosts a large contingent of workers from the Asian subcontinent.
None of those infected had traveled recently to Zika-affected areas. “This confirms that local transmission of Zika virus infection has taken place,” the statement said.
Following the outbreak, Malaysia is stepping up surveillance
Singapore said there were “ongoing local transmission” cases in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Other countries in the region to have detected the Zika virus since 2013 include Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives and the Philippines, according to the World Health Organization.
Newswire Reuters has said that Malaysia is stepping up surveillance at main transit points with Singapore – handing out leaflets on Zika prevention and having paramedics ready to handle visitors with potential symptoms of the virus.
It is believed that the current strain of Zika sweeping through Latin America and the Caribbean originated in Asia, where people may have built up greater immunity.
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