Singapore under Zika attack

Sep 1, 2016
Zika virus is spread by Aedes mosquito.
Zika virus is spread by Aedes mosquito.

A total of 115 Zika infections have been confirmed in Singapore, including the first pregnant woman in the country to be diagnosed with the virus, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) and National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a joint briefing session on Wednesday.

The authorities also identified a new potential cluster at Bedok North Avenue 3, and also confirmed 24 new cases, most of which are from the existing cluster.

Of the 24 new cases, authorities said 22 cases are from the Sims Drive/Aljunied Crescent cluster, which now also extends to Kallang Way and Paya Lebar Way.

Two of the new cases have no known links to the affected area.

One patient lives at Joo Seng Road and the other lives at Punggol Way.

The potential new cluster at Bedok North Avenue 3 involves three previously reported cases, said MOH and NEA.

The cases were reported on Tuesday. One case in Bedok North has a link to Kallang Way, but the other two have no known links to the Sims Drive/Aljunied Crescent cluster – which authorities said points to a possible new cluster.

NEA said it will begin mosquito control operations at the potential new cluster at Bedok North Avenue 3, and will also step up vector control in other parts of Singapore.

Vector control remains the mainstay in reducing the spread of Zika, it added.

Singapore Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.
Singapore Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said: “Over time, we expect Zika cases to emerge from more areas. We must work and plan on the basis that there is Zika transmission in other parts of Singapore and extend our vector control efforts beyond the current affected areas.”

The authorities also identified nine additional cases as a result of MOH’s look-back testing of previous cases.

The pregnant Zika patient lives in the Sims Drive/Aljunied Crescent area and was diagnosed on Wednesday, authorities said, adding that she displayed mild symptoms of the virus and was taken to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

They added that she lives with a household member who was also diagnosed as positive for Zika.

Her doctor is following up closely with her to monitor her health as well as the development of the baby, authorities said. She will be referred to a maternal-foetal medicine specialist for counselling and advice.

NEA officers conducting Zika checks in dengue clusters in Singapore.
NEA officers conducting Zika checks in dengue clusters in Singapore.

National University Hospital Head of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Professor Arijit Biswas said the general guidelines are for pregnant patients with Zika to go for checks every four weeks.

On Wednesday morning, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong visited the National Public Health Laboratory where blood and urine samples of those suspected of having Zika are tested.

Posting about the visit on Facebook, MOH said the samples are sent to the lab from various public healthcare institutions, such as the Communicable Disease Centre and hospitals, where patients are referred to from general practitioner (GP) clinics and polyclinics.

Pest control workers fumigate the drainage at a Macpherson housing estate in Singapore.
Pest control workers fumigate the drainage at a Macpherson housing estate in Singapore.

The tests take about three hours to be completed before results are sent back to the healthcare institutions.

In all, it takes about half a day for patients to receive their results.

Gan thanked the lab workers who have been working into the night and over the weekend to ensure that patients get their test results as soon as possible.

Singapore national public health laboratory conducts Zika tests.
Singapore national public health laboratory conducts Zika tests.
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