Singapore Confirmed 41 Cases of ‘Homegrown’ Zika Virus
Singapore has confirmed 41 cases of locally-transmitted Zika virus, mostly among foreign construction workers, and said it expected more cases to be identified.
All but 7 of those infected have fully recovered, the health ministry and the National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a joint statement Sunday. Those 7 remain in hospital.
Saturday, authorities had confirmed a 47-year-old Malaysian woman living in southeastern Singapore as the city-state’s 1st case of a local transmission of the virus, which in Brazil has been linked to a rare birth defect.
The 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. And 78 people tested negative and 5 cases were pending, 34 patients fully recovered.
Four Singaporean men had developed symptoms of the virus in the past week and were hospitalized 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 sub-continent.
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.
The ministry “cannot rule out further community transmission since some of those tested positive also live or work in other parts of Singapore,” the statement said. “We expect to identify more positive cases.”
Singapore, a major regional financial center and busy transit hub, which maintains a constant vigil against the mosquito-borne dengue virus, reported its 1st case of the Zika virus in May, brought in by a middle-aged man who had been to Brazil.
Singapore deployed around 200 NEA officers to clean drains and spray insecticide in the mainly residential area early Sunday to counter mosquito breeding grounds, and volunteers and contractors handed out leaflets and insect repellent.
All medical services in Singapore had been alerted “to be extra vigilant” and immediately report any Zika-associated symptoms to the health ministry.
Local residents welcomed the NEA clean-up Sunday.
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 Y 2013 include Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives and the Philippines, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Malaysia said Sunday it stepped 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.
In Thailand, where close to 100 cases of Zika have been recorded across 10 provinces this year, the Department of Disease Control (DDC) was screening athletes returning from the Olympic Games in Brazil, but was not otherwise changing its prevention measures.
“Every country in this region has Zika transmission cases,” said Prasert Thongcharoen, an adviser to the DDC. “Thailand has, however, managed to contain the problem through early detection.”
A foreign ministry spokesman said Indonesia was “following developments”. Oskar Pribadi, a health ministry official, said there had been no recent Zika cases in the country.
Vietnam has to date reported 3 cases of locally-transmitted Zika infection.
The current strain of Zika sweeping through Latin America and the Caribbean originated in Asia, where people may have built up greater immunity.
The WHO has said there is strong scientific consensus that Zika can also cause Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis in adults.