No Zika link to Brazil: govt

Bedok in Singapore is one of the Zika hotspots. Source: Wikimedia

The Zika virus that sparked the recent outbreak in Singapore was not imported from South America, the Ministry of Health has said.

The National Public Health Laboratory and the Bioinformatics Institute have apparently found that the Zika virus diagnosed in two patients from the first cluster in Aljunied Crescent and Sims Drive belonged to Asian lineage.

It is too early to say if the Zika outbreak is no longer a significant threat, specialists welcomed the news but emphasised the need to continue stamping out the Aedes mosquito, which spreads the virus.

Singapore on Sunday confirmed 27 more cases, bringing the total to 242.

An ongoing community effort in the city-state involving around 50 areas, including Bedok and Whampoa, is encouraging residents to take steps to prevent mosquito breeding.

The virus in Singapore is thought to have evolved from a strain already circulating in the region, and was not imported from South America or Africa, where the outbreak has been linked to a condition called microcephaly, where infants have been born with reduced skulls.

There were 26 new cases of Zika in Singapore reported by September 3, the city-state’s ministry said, adding that suspected Zika patients might be allowed home while their blood and urine samples were tested. Those who test positive for dengue are not normally kept in hospital.

In Malaysia, Director-General of Health Noor Hisham Abdullah posted on Facebook that a man from Sabah on Borneo who had the Zika virus had died on Saturday.

Authorities are continuing with their efforts to bring the Aedes mosquitoes under control in affected areas.

Sunday’s 25 new cases were linked to the initial outbreak area, one was linked to a potential fresh cluster of cases and the other new case had no known links to any existing outbreak, the Ministry of Health and National Environment Agency announced.

“There is a potential new cluster involving one previously reported case and a new case today,” the official statement added.

Brazil has confirmed more than 1,800 cases of microcephaly.

In adults, Zika infections have also been tied to a rare neurological syndrome known as Guillain-Barre, as well as other neurological conditions.

The virus was first identified in Uganda in 1947 and first surfaced in the Americas after football’s 2014 World Cup in Brazil.