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UPDATE 2-Singapore raises Zika tally; first pregnant woman diagnosed

© Provided by The Rahnuma Daily

* Confirmed Zika infections rise to 115

* Ministry expects more cases; virus to spread to otherareas

* Singapore F1 race preparations on track – promoter (Adds details on pregnant woman, potential new cluster)

By Aradhana Aravindan

SINGAPORE, Aug 31 (Reuters) – A pregnant woman was amongthose diagnosed with Zika infections in Singapore, as the numberof confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne virus in the city-staterose to 115.

The Zika virus, which has spread through the Americas andthe Caribbean since late last year, is generally a mild diseasebut is a particular risk to pregnant women as it can causemicrocephaly – a severe birth defect in which babies are bornwith abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains.

The pregnant woman who tested positive lives in the Aljuniedarea in Singapore’s southeast, where most previous cases havebeen detected. A member of her household was earlier diagnosedwith Zika, the Straits Times newspaper reported.

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

In a joint statement with the National Environment Agency(NEA), the health ministry said it identified another potentialcluster of Zika virus infection in east Singapore, involvingthree previously reported cases.

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

Several countries have warned pregnant women or those tryingto conceive to avoid travelling to Singapore.

The outbreak and travel advisories come as the tourismindustry in one of the world’s busiest travel hubs already facesweak global economic growth. It is also just weeks ahead of theSingapore Formula One motor-racing Grand Prix – a major sportingand entertainment attraction.

Preparations for the race weekend are “on track andproceeding as per normal,” the promoter, Singapore GP, said inan emailed statement.


In addition to 24 new Zika cases confirmed on Wednesday,nine were detected in the health ministry’s ‘look-back’ testingof previous cases.

The NEA said it is to widen the scope of its mosquitocontrol operations – clearing drains and spraying potentialbreeding habitats with insecticide – to include the newpotential cluster area.

Most of the initial cases were among the hundreds ofthousands of foreign workers, drawn mainly from the Asiansub-continent, who work on Singapore’s construction sites and inthe marine sector. These included 13 Indian citizens, said aperson at the Indian High Commission in Singapore.

(Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)

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