Singapore braces for long-term battle with Zika virus

World Today


The Zika virus has been detected in almost 300 people since the first locally transmitted infection reported two weeks ago. And the affected areas are spreading.

CCTV’s Miro Lu has the story.

Singapore braces for long-term battle with Zika virus

Singapore is the only known place in Asia with active Zika transmission. CCTV’s Miro Lu has the story.

Zika can cause serious birth defects when pregnant women are infected. It is primarily spread by the Aedes mosquito. Since the first locally transmitted infection was reported on August 27, Singapore has waged war against mosquitoes.

Hundreds of specialist workers conduct island-wide inspections for mosquito breeding grounds, spray insecticide and clear stagnant water. Residents of homes where mosquito breeding hot spots are found can be penalized.

But almost daily downpours, average temperature of 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), large green areas in a populated urban setting makes Singapore a hospitable area for mosquitoes.

Governments of Australia, South Korea, U.K. and U.S. have issued travel warnings for visitors to Singapore. Neighboring Malaysia and Indonesia have stepped up protective measures, introducing thermal scanners at airports and border checkpoints. China has announced that it will offer Zika health screening for travelers from Singapore and other affected countries.

Many fear that if Zika is to stay and spread in Singapore, it hurt Singapore’s already stagnant economy.

“The impact on Singapore tourism and the economy as a whole will really be marginal at worst,” Brian Tan, Southeast Asia economist at Nomura said. “One of the more important points one has to consider with Zika virus is that it’s not actually a very infectious or particularly lethal disease. We don’t actually expect a lot of tourists to back out to their plans to visit Singapore, so far the information we see from hotels and tourism groups has suggested this is the case.”

The upcoming Singapore Grand Prix scheduled just a week from now will be the key event to watch for any impact on the travel industry. The organizer says that preparation for the world’s only night race is on track. Singapore Tourism board says it’s premature to consider any impact on the sector, adding that the city-state remains a safe travel destination.

Kathryn Jacobsen discusses Zika cases in Asia

For more on concerns with Zika in Asia, CCTV America’s Elaine Reyes spoke to Kathryn Jacobsen, epidemiology professor in Department of Global & Community Health at George Mason University.