Singapore a role model in its handling of Zika: WHO

Thermal fogging around Blk 51 Sims Drive on Aug 29, 2016.
Thermal fogging around Blk 51 Sims Drive on Aug 29, 2016. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said Singapore represents a role model for countries in its handling of Zika cases, and praised the level of transparency shown here.

It also revealed that Singapore is expected to complete gene sequencing of the virus strain behind the cases by next week. This is to confirm if the virus is the Asian strain, which is behind outbreaks in Brazil and the Americas, and which has been linked with microcephaly.

Last Saturday, the authorities announced that a locally transmitted case had been detected in the Aljunied area. The number of infections stood at 189 as of noon yesterday - including 38 newly detected cases.

While 34 of the latest cases were linked to the Aljunied Crescent/ Sims Drive/Kallang Way/Paya Lebar Way cluster, the remaining four new cases were not associated with any existing cluster, the Health Ministry said. It did not specify any other locations.

So far, two pregnant women have been infected. While the Zika infection is mild for most people, it can have serious consequences for unborn children, who may develop microcephaly and be born with a much smaller head.

 
 

Speaking after a meeting of the WHO's emergency committee on Zika at its Geneva headquarters yesterday, its outbreaks and emergencies head Peter Salama highlighted the "enormous" amount of work Singapore put in over the last week to track and contain Zika's spread.

This includes "epidemiological work, lab work, public health work, including vector control, detailed follow-up including retroactive analysis of cases".

"We really have to congratulate the transparency and quick reporting the Government of Singapore has implemented in the case of this outbreak and hope that all other countries can do the same," said Dr Salama.

Yesterday, the National Environment Agency said there will be community activities over the coming two weekends to urge residents to fight Zika. Among other things, they should ensure that mosquitoes are not breeding in homes and remove stagnant water.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 03, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore a role model in its handling of Zika: WHO'. Print Edition | Subscribe