SINGAPORE - The first imported case of the Zika virus infection has been reported in Singapore on Friday (May 13).
The patient is a 48-year-old male Singapore permanent resident who had travelled to Sao Paulo in Brazil from March 27 to May 7.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a joint statement that they were informed of the case on Friday.
The patient developed fever and rash from Tuesday and was admitted to Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital on Thursday and isolated.
He tested positive for the Zika virus on Friday. The virus is spread by the Aedes mosquito, which also transmits dengue.
MOH and NEA said the patient will be transferred to the Communicable Diseases Centre at Tan Tock Seng Hospital for treatment and isolation so as to minimise the chances of being bitten by mosquitoes and spreading the infection in the community.
The patient is currently well and recovering, but will only be discharged when he tests negative for the Zika virus.
MOH is also screening the patient's household members. They have been advised to monitor their health and seek medical treatment if unwell.
While the patient's residence at Watten Estate is not an active dengue cluster, NEA has intensified vector control operations to control the Aedes mosquito population in the area.
As the majority of people infected with the virus do not show symptoms, it is possible that some transmission may already have taken place before the first confirmed case of Zika was notified.
NEA urged residents to cooperate fully with its officers and allow them to inspect their premises for mosquito breeding and to spray insecticide to kill any mosquitoes.
It also advised residents of Watten Estate, Casa Perla, Hillcrest Arcadia, The Arcadia and Watten Hill Condominium to monitor their health.
They should seek medical attention if unwell, especially if they develop symptoms such as fever, skin rashes, joint and muscle pains, headaches and red eyes.
They should also inform their doctors of the location of their residence.
Those who have returned to Singapore from countries with Zika outbreaks should monitor their health for the next 14 days and consult a doctor if they have symptoms of the virus.
MOH will provide further updates and health advisories at www.moh.gov.sg/zika.
In a Facebook post on Friday night, Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Sim Ann said its grassroots team will give NEA full support in conducting house visits and engaging residents.
The virus has been spreading across the Americas and is linked to microcephaly or underdeveloped brains in babies. Cases have also been reported in the region, including the Philippines, Thailand Vietnam and East Malaysia.
The Singapore authorities have warned earlier that it was “almost inevitable” that the Zika virus will find its way here because Singapore plays host to many foreign visitors and residents travel abroad frequently, making imported Zika cases likely.
The authorities have already stepped up measures to detect and cope with possible Zika cases. The MOH has set up a clinical advisory group to look into the management of pregnant women who might have the Zika virus. The panel will come up with guidelines for doctors treating such women.
The NEA has also stepped up the testing of blood samples of patients with fever, rash or suspected dengue.
In February this year, Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said in Parliament that the MOH was looking at working with the relevant institutions on potential areas for collaboration and research, such as Zika virus diagnostics, transmission, and its association with microcephaly. And if a case is detected in Singapore, NEA and other agencies under the Inter-Agency Dengue Task Force will intensify search and destroy efforts to contain the Aedes mosquito population at the implicated sites.