SINGAPORE: More local Zika cases are expected to emerge over time, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Sunday (Aug 28). This will be partly due to the fact that active testing is being carried out in affected areas, as well as the possible emergence of new imported cases, he added.
Mr Gan was speaking to the media after the Ministry of Health confirmed 41 cases of locally-transmitted Zika virus infection at a press conference.
“Singapore has a very high volume of international travel, therefore imported cases are almost inevitable,” said Mr Gan, explaining that as many Zika cases are asymptomatic, there is a “very high likelihood” of the virus being imported to Singapore.
He added that for these imported cases, the likelihood of local transmission “is also very high“. This is why the Health Ministry is also working with doctors to be on the lookout for Zika cases, in order to identify clusters and carry out vector control.
Mr Gan also said that vector control is the most effective way to protect against zika - not just for residents in affected areas but for people living in all locations. “This is because the Aedes mosquito is present in Singapore, and it is very likely for this disease to be transmitted locally.” Vectors are organisms that transmit diseases.
On Saturday, a 47-year-old Malaysian woman living in Aljunied Crescent was confirmed as Singapore's first reported case of locally-transmitted Zika virus infection.
After tests results came in overnight, the Health Ministry confirmed on Sunday that there are 41 cases of locally transmitted Zika virus infection. Of these, 34 people have fully recovered.
Mr Gan said that part of the reason for the jump in numbers is that after the first locally transmitted case was reported, the Health Ministry looked back into cases where people were seen by doctors but were not suspected to have Zika. These cases were initially not suspected for Zika as the patients had no travel history, said Mr Gan.
“Now that we know that there’s a case in the Sims Drive area, we have therefore gone back.... to all these cases that were surfaced before, and checked their blood tests and so on. And this is why we discovered more cases, as a result of the first case,” he said.
“It was not a case whereby we did not know, and there’s sudden emergence of these cases. Out of 41 cases, 36 were (detected) due to this active testing.”