China confirms third case of Zika

Aedes Aegypti mosquito in a lab of the International Training and Medical Research Training Center in Colombia, on Feb 2, 2016.
Aedes Aegypti mosquito in a lab of the International Training and Medical Research Training Center in Colombia, on Feb 2, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING • China has confirmed a third imported Zika case involving a 38-year-old man who returned from Fiji and Samoa, state media said.

None of the 32 people who were in contact with him has developed any symptoms so far.

The patient developed a fever when he returned to the city of Yiwu in east China's Zhejiang province on Feb 15. He was put under quarantine and was confirmed to be suffering from the Zika virus on Friday, nine days after the country's first imported case was discovered.

His temperature is now normal and his condition has improved, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

Mr Li Dexin, a researcher at the China Disease Control and Prevention Centre, was quoted by Xinhua as saying that individual imported cases were expected as large numbers return to the mainland after the Chinese New Year holiday, but the risk of an epidemic in China remained low.

Disease prevention experts say while the type of mosquitoes that can spread the virus exist in southern China, the current low temperatures inhibit mosquito activity.

China's first Zika patient was discharged from hospital on Sunday after a full recovery. The second case, also imported, was detected in the southern province of Guangdong on Feb 15.

Guangzhou's Baiyun International Airport has set up four infrared devices to detect body temperatures of inbound passengers.

"After years of improvement, we can ensure each and every traveller's body temperature gets checked," said Mr Meng Chuanjin, deputy head of the entry-exit inspection and quarantine bureau of Guangdong province.

Nearly 12 million passed through Baiyun International Airport last year. More than 30 customs officers have been trained to identify possible infectees even if their temperature is normal, Mr Meng said.

Guangdong started screening for the Zika virus in 2014 and examined more than 800 suspected cases, including China's first two cases.

As the weather gets warmer and trade with South America picks up, it will be even more difficult to keep Zika in check, Mr Meng said.

More than 30 countries have reported the Zika virus, mostly in the Americas and Caribbean. The World Health Organisation on Feb 1 declared the virus a global health emergency.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 22, 2016, with the headline 'China confirms third case of Zika'. Print Edition | Subscribe