13 December 2018
An alert notice on the Zika virus is posted at a residential block in Singapore on Monday. Photo: AFP
An alert notice on the Zika virus is posted at a residential block in Singapore on Monday. Photo: AFP

Australia, Taiwan, S Korea issue travel warnings for Singapore

Australia, Taiwan and South Korea have advised pregnant women and those attempting to get pregnant to avoid travel to Singapore after an outbreak of the Zika virus infected more than 50 people in the city state.

Singapore reported its first case of locally-transmitted Zika at the weekend, and the number of reported infections of the mosquito-borne virus has since jumped to 56, Reuters reports.

At least three dozen of those have since made a full recovery.

The Zika virus was detected in Brazil last year and has since spread across the Americas.

It poses a risk to pregnant women because it can cause severe birth defects.

It has been linked in Brazil to more than 1,800 cases of microcephaly, a rare birth defect where babies are born with abnormally small heads and brains.

The 56 confirmed cases in Singapore include only one woman.

Taiwan, Australia and South Korea advised pregnant women and those planning pregnancy to postpone trips to Singapore. Those returning from the country should avoid pregnancy for two months.

South Korean travelers will receive text messages with the warning when they arrive in Singapore.

Malaysia and Indonesia, Singapore’s closest neighbors, have stepped up protective measures following the outbreak, introducing thermal scanners at airports and border checkpoints.

Singapore’s Tourism Board said it was monitoring developments, adding the city state remained a “safe travel destination”, and it was premature to consider any impact.

More than 55 million people pass through Singapore’s Changi airport every year.

In the first half of this year, tourism arrivals reached almost 8.2 million, compared with around 7.3 million in the same period of last year.

Online retailer Lazada Singapore said on Tuesday it has seen sales of mosquito repellent and other deterrent products rise fivefold over the past three days compared to a week ago.

Authorities continued to inspect thousands of homes in seven parts of Singapore, including five foreign worker dormitories, on Tuesday.

Officials sprayed insecticide and removed potential mosquito breeding habitats such as stagnant water and moist dirt from drains.

The majority of those infected with Zika in Singapore were foreign workers, but the government has not disclosed their nationalities.

The High Commission of Bangladesh, which represents the largest community of foreign workers, said none of the workers were Bangladeshis.

The Chinese and Myanmar embassies in Singapore said they had not been notified by Singapore whether their citizens were among those infected.

The Thai embassy did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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