Singapore on alert against zika virus
A health agent uses a new test kit that rapidly diagnoses three different mosquito-borne viruses in Sao Paulo, Brazil, January 18, 2016. Brazil said on Monday pregnant women should consult their doctors before traveling to the South American country but no other restrictions were necessary regarding the mosquito-borne Zika virus Reuters

Singaporean authorities are closely watching the spread of Zika virus in central and south America where it has reportedly caused severe brain damage to newborn babies.

Mosquito-borne Zika virus has not been found in Singapore, but it has historically occurred in southeast Asia.

Medical experts had said last week Singapore is extremely vulnerable to Zika virus and that any outbreak will be far more serious than the current dengue crisis.

Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health, reiterated the concerns on Sunday. "Singapore is vulnerable to the virus simply because Singaporeans travel a lot to the region, and of course there are also tourists here," Khor said, according to Channel News Asia.

The health ministry has said it was actively considering precautionary measures against the virus while the National Environment Agency (NEA) said it could not rule out any outbreak.

The ministry also issued guidelines to people travelling to countries where Zika has caused health emergency.

In southeast Asia, Cambodia and Thailand have repot Zika virus.

In south and central America, the disease has spread to 21 countries last year. Brazil has said the virus was linked to a foetal deformation known as microcephaly, in which infants are born with smaller-than-usual brains, Reuters reported.

The country has had 3,893 suspected cases of microcephaly, the World Health Association (WHO) said last week.

WHO has published a detailed advisory on Zika virus.