41 infected with Zika virus in S'pore
T HE Ministry of Health (MOH) has confirmed 41 cases of locally transmitted Zika, all of whom are residents or workers in the Aljunied Crescent and Sims Drive area.
They include 36 foreign construction workers.
They are among 124 people - 118 of whom are construction workers - who have been tested, most of them on Saturday.
In all, 78 have tested negative and the remaining five cases are still pending, MOH and National Environment Agency (NEA) announced in a press conference yesterday.
None of the cases is known to have travelled to Zika-affected areas recently, suggesting local transmission.
The latest announcement followed the one on Saturday of Singapore's first locally transmitted case of the virus - a Malaysian woman.
She is the only confirmed female case here.
Of the 41 cases, 36 were detected through active testing.
In all, 34 cases have fully recovered.
The remaining seven are still symptomatic and recovering at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
So far, the cases appear to be localised within the Aljunied Crescent and Sims Drive cluster, said MOH.
However, the authorities have identified "other areas of concern" outside of the cluster where some of the victims live or work.
These are Khatib Camp, where one of the victims is a full-time national serviceman; Sembawang Drive; Kranji Road; Joo Chiat Place; Senoko South Road; Toh Guan Road East; and Lorong 101 Changi.
The NEA has started intensified vector control operations targeting Aedes mosquitoes - which spread the virus - and will continue for 14 days, with surveillance of the situation for another 21 days afterwards.
These include misting, fogging and increasing the frequency of flushing and oiling drains to prevent mosquito breeding.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said yesterday he expects more cases to surface.
He described the likelihood of more local transmission as "very high".
Singapore is now the 58th country in the world to report local Zika transmissions.
Mr Gan said this was "almost inevitable" given the country's position as a travel hub.
The Zika virus has mild effects on most people but it can be fatal for unborn children.
Pregnant women who get infected may give birth to babies with small heads, a condition called microcephaly, and other brain defects.
About four in five people infected by Zika will not show symptoms.
For those who do, these include viral fever, skin rashes, body aches and headache.
On Aug 22, a GP clinic in the area informed authorities of an unusual increase in viral fever.
The next day, MOH staff went down and told GPs to refer new cases to the Communicable Diseases Centre, and began tracing past cases.
There are over 6,000 premises in the area, including 5,000 HDB units. The NEA inspected 1,800 units on Saturday and is continuing inspections.