Klang – Malaysian authorities have confirmed the country’s first Zika case, a woman who visited Singapore. The Malaysian Health Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. S. Subramaniam, said the woman, a Chinese aged 58, who lives in Bandar Botanic in Klang, went to visit her daughter in Singapore on August 19, and returned three days later, on August 21 with her husband.

After her return, she had a fever and a rash, so she went to a private hospital. There, the doctor diagnosed her as a “suspected case of Zika.” The doctor told her to get tested, and she turned out to be positive for Zika through her urine test, while the blood test is still pending. The woman has now been admitted to Sungai Buloh public Hospital and will get discharged before next week.

Malaysian authorities have confirmed the country’s first Zika case, a woman who visited Singapore. Photo credit: AFP / JIJI / The Japan Times
Malaysian authorities have confirmed the country’s first Zika case, a woman who visited Singapore. Photo credit: AFP / JIJI / The Japan Times

According to government officials, the woman’s house and all ground within a four hundred meter radius are being “thoroughly fogged,” including larvicide fogging, and “has been put under strict anti-Aedes control measures.”

Public officials also claimed it was “imperative” for the public to allow fogging in their homes to prevent spread.

Singapore is the only Asian country with Zika

After the announcement, China has stated it will “intensify” its measures against people and goods that were arriving at the country proceeding from Singapore.

So far, Singapore is the only Asian country with active Zika transmission, with over one hundred cases including a pregnant woman.Government officials reported the first local transmission on Saturday, and by Thursday the number had surged to 115. The majority of the people infected are foreigners, mainly Chinese, Indian and Bangladeshi.

“We have been tracking Zika for a while now, and knew it was only a matter of time before it reached Singapore. Our best defense is to eradicate mosquitoes and destroy breeding habitats, all over Singapore,” stated Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on his Facebook page.

In less than two weeks in the Singapore F1 motor racing Grand Prix, which is a major sporting event that usually attracts a massive influx of tourism.

However, Australia, the United States, and many other countries have issued statements warning pregnant women, or couples who want to conceive, to avoid traveling to Singapore.

However, the Singapore’s Tourism Board has claimed the city-state is a “safe travel destination” and that this outbreak will not damage the tourism industry.

Singapore’s Changi airport is a massive destination for travelers, with more than fifty-five million people passing through it yearly. Tourism arrivals make up for eight million of visitors only in the first half of this year, compared with the five million inhabitants of the city-state.

China and Singapore elections

China depends on Singapore to send its right to overseas markets, which means the Zika outbreak will impact the exports negatively and will slow down the countries’ economic growth.

“If this continues, certainly it will have a negative impact, but it’s hard to quantify in percentage terms or dollar value,” said Francis Tan, an economist at United Overseas Bank in Singapore.

Zika is transmitted through mosquito bites, and also through sexual contact. In Brazil, a case was documented where the person got the disease through a blood transfusion.

The disease has no vaccine or treatment, and is responsible for microcephaly and malformations in newborn babies, as well as being a cause for Guillain-Barre, a neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis.

Source: Reuters