19 February 2019
A pest control worker fumigates the grounds of a residential estate in Singapore on Thursday. Photo: AFP
A pest control worker fumigates the grounds of a residential estate in Singapore on Thursday. Photo: AFP

Malaysia confirms first case of Zika

Malaysia has confirmed its first case of Zika after a woman tested positive for the virus following a three-day visit to neighboring Singapore on Aug. 19.

The 58-year-old woman had showed signs of a rash and fever one week after returning from Singapore, Reuters reports, citing Health Minister Subramaniam Sathasivam.

“We are carrying out control measures against aedes mosquitoes near the woman’s home to prevent the spread of the virus,” he said at a news conference on Thursday.

He said the virus was discovered in the woman’s urine sample.

Subramaniam said they have already intensified vector control activities in Taman Botani in Klang, where the infected woman’s home is located.

He urged residents to allow officers dispatched to the area to enter their homes and carry out fogging and larvicidal spraying.

Singapore announced the first locally contracted case of Zika late on Saturday, and the number of diagnosed infections has grown steadily this week.

A pregnant woman was among those diagnosed with Zika infections in Singapore, as the number of confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne virus in the city-state rose to 115.

China, meanwhile, intensified its checks on people and goods arriving from Singapore.

Authorities in Singapore said half of the 115 cases reported previously were foreigners, mainly from China, India and Bangladesh, and most had already recovered.

Many of them are believed to be among the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in Singapore’s construction and marine industries.

The United States, Australia and other countries have added Singapore to the growing list of places that pregnant women or those trying to conceive have been warned to avoid in view of Zika.

Meanwhile, in south Florida, where nearly 50 cases of Zika have been reported in non-travelers, officials said they trapped the first mosquitoes that tested positive for the virus, further confirming reports of local US transmission.

The Zika outbreak and travel warnings come just two weeks before the Singapore F1 motor-racing Grand Prix, a major sporting and tourist draw.

The race promoter said planning for the event is going ahead “as per normal”.

Singapore’s Tourism Board has said it is premature to consider any impact on the tourism industry, stressing the city state remains a “safe travel destination”.

More than 55 million people pass through Singapore’s Changi airport each year. Tourism arrivals topped 8 million in the first half of this year, around 1 million more than a year ago.

US health officials have concluded that Zika infections in pregnant women can cause microcephaly, a birth defect marked by small head size that can lead to severe developmental problems in babies.

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