DOH intensifies Zika monitoring

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The Department of Health (DOH) is closely monitoring and testing travelers who are symptomatic or indicating signs of Zika virus infection.

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The DOH enhanced its watch for the possible entry of the disease following the increase in the number of Zika cases in Singapore.

Health Secretary Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial said the country’s ports are being monitored “to make sure that the virus will not get into our shores or possible spread will be controlled ahead.”

She added that surveillance and quarantine check at air and sea ports are in place.

So far, none of those tested yielded positive for the virus.

Testing is being done at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.
Singapore clinics Monday reported more Zika infections, bringing the suspected total to 50, as mosquito-fighting teams saturated the scene of the outbreak.

Inspectors from the National Environment Agency checking for mosquito-breeding sites visited homes in the eastern Aljunied Crescent district where 41 cases — mostly foreign workers at a condominium construction project — have been confirmed.

Nearly all have recovered but nine more suspected cases of Zika virus infection — both citizens and foreign workers — were reported Monday by two community clinics, local media said.

These cases were also in Aljunied.

Zika causes only mild symptoms for most people, such as fever and a rash, and has been detected in 58 countries particularly Brazil.

But in pregnant women, it can cause microcephaly, a deformation in which babies are born with abnormally small brains and heads.

Singapore, despite the highest health care standards in Southeast Asia, is a densely populated tropical island with frequent rain. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water that collects in construction sites, open space and homes.

It is also one of Asia’s cleanest cities but has a chronic problem with dengue fever, which is spread by the same Aedes mosquito that carries the Zika virus.

Singapore’s first reported case of Zika in May involved a man who had visited Sao Paulo in Brazil earlier in the year.

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