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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Singapore confirms 41 locally-transmitted Zika virus cases

Infected include 36 foreign workers not known to have been in Zika-affected areas recently

Singapore authorities have confirmed 41 cases of locally-transmitted Zika virus, which in Brazil has been linked to a rare birth defect, and said more cases were expected to be identified.

Those infected include 36 foreign construction workers employed at a site near Aljunied in the southeast of the island, the health ministry and the National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a joint statement on Sunday.

On Saturday, authorities had confirmed Singapore’s first case of a local transmission of the virus, to a 47-year-old Malaysian woman, also from the Aljunied area.

“MOH (the ministry of health) cannot rule out further community transmission in Singapore since some of those tested positive also live or work in other parts of Singapore,” the statement said. “We expect to identify more positive cases.”

Construction workers

The authorities said they have tested 124 people, primarily construction workers. Seventy-eight tested negative and five cases were pending. Thirty-four patients have fully recovered. It was not immediately clear where the foreign workers were from, but Singapore hosts a large contingent of workers from the Asian sub-continent.

“All the cases are residents or workers in the Aljunied Crescent/Sims Drive area. They are not known to have travelled to Zika-affected areas recently, and are thus likely to have been infected in Singapore. This confirms that local transmission of Zika virus infection has taken place,” the statement said.

Dozens of NEA staff cleaned drains and sprayed insecticide in the mainly residential area early on Sunday, and volunteers and contractors handed out leaflets and insect repellent. The NEA workers had accessed more than 1,800 premises of a total of 6,000 in the area to check for mosquito breeding.
Local residents welcomed the clean-up.

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