Singapore mass sprays residences as Zika expected to spread

lunes 29 de agosto de 2016 03:48 GYT

By Christophe Van Der Perre and Edgar Su

SINGAPORE Aug 29 (Reuters) - Officials sprayed insecticide and cleared drains of stagnant water in residential areas of Singapore at high risk of further Zika infections on Monday after 41 locally transmitted cases were confirmed in the city state.

Workers wearing fumigation masks travelled methodically through high-rise public housing estates in seven separate areas of the island, inspecting plant pots closely as they sprayed insecticide via thermal fogging machines.

The health ministry on Saturday confirmed Singapore's first locally-transmitted case of Zika, with the tally rising to 41 just a day later. All of the infected people were either residents of the Aljunied district or workers at a construction site owned by GuocoLand in the area.

"We expect to identify more positive cases," the ministry said on Monday in its latest update on the outbreak.

"Given that the majority of Zika cases are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, and mosquitoes in the affected areas may already have been infected, isolation of positive cases may have limited effect to managing the spread," it added.

Singapore, a major regional financial centre and busy transit hub, which maintains a constant vigil against the mosquito-borne dengue virus, reported its first case of the Zika virus in May, brought in by a middle-aged man who had been to Brazil.

GuocoLand, which is headquartered in Singapore and has developments across Asia, was ordered on Saturday to stop work on the building site where 36 of the infected people worked. It will remain closed until the company rectifies the conditions that allowed mosquitoes to breed and steps up preventative measures, the health ministry said.

The Zika virus, carried by mosquitoes, was detected in Brazil last year and has since spread across the Americas. It poses a risk to pregnant women because it can cause severe birth defects. It has been linked in Brazil to more than 1,600 cases of microcephaly, where babies are born with abnormally small heads and brains.   Continuación...