BANGKOK • Twenty-one new cases of locally transmitted Zika virus have been confirmed in central Bangkok, including a pregnant woman who later gave birth with no complications, Thailand's public health ministry said yesterday.
Residents in the Thai capital were urged not to be alarmed after the cases were confirmed in the Sathorn area of the city, an upmarket neighbourhood that is popular with the city's expatriate community and part of the capital's business district.
"Of the 21 cases confirmed in the Sathorn area, there was one pregnant woman who recovered and gave birth successfully," Ministry of Public Health spokesman Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai said by telephone.
"Mother and newborn are safe," he said, adding that the woman's husband had recently returned from Singapore.
Thailand first recorded the Zika virus in 2012 and the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority conducts regular testing for the virus.
The new Thai cases follow confirmation from Malaysia last Wednesday of its first case of the Zika virus in a pregnant woman, a 27-year-old living in Johor Baru, which is close to Singapore.
Singapore reported its first locally infected Zika patient on Aug 27 and, since then, the number of reported infections has swelled to more than 300.
Zika infections in pregnant women have been shown to cause microcephaly, a severe birth defect in which the baby's head and brain are undersized, besides other brain abnormalities.
Mr Suwannachai said that 30 pregnant women with Zika were being monitored in Thailand. So far, six of the women have given birth without complications or any birth defects.
Sixteen out of Thailand's 76 provinces have confirmed cases of the Zika virus since January, according to the country's Health Ministry, but no birth defects or deaths have been reported.
"There have been no deaths or complications so far, so I urge our brothers and sisters not to be alarmed," said Mr Suwannachai.
Although microcephaly is typically detected during ultrasound scans in the late second and early third trimester of pregnancy, the condition can be detected as early as at 18 to 20 weeks' gestation, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.