Philippines reports first Zika virus pregnancy case
Picture for representation Reuters

The National Environment Agency's (NEA) reported on its website that Zika virus cases have hit 407 with six new cases being diagnosed on 13 October, after a week-long stretch where no new cases were reported on most days.

According to the Channel News Asia, a new cluster was also identified at Ubi Avenue 1, Singapore , with two cases on Thursday. Authorities said that an earlier Zika cluster at the same location was neutralised on 4 October and no new cases were reported thereafter.

This news comes along with the information of a new Zika zone of one square mile area being discovered in Florida. The Zika virus in this zone in Miami is actively infecting people, said the state officials on Thursday.

Authorities also said that this officially is the third Zika outbreak in Miami.

Miami, has always been a hot zone for Zika because it has both the Aedes mosquitoes, responsible for spreading the virus, and the influx of people travelling from other Zika infected countries.

"Today's announcement of a new area in Miami of ongoing local transmission of the Zika virus underscores the urgent need for federal funding to combat the Zika virus," Florida governor Rick Scott said in a statement, as reported by NBC news.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged people to be careful and use repellent and warned pregnant women to stay out of the neighborhood if possible.

Moreover, the mosquito-borne virus, which has afflicted people in as many as 70 countries, was "highly likely" to spread across Asia, WHO director Margaret Chan said.

"Unfortunately, scientists do not yet have answers to many critical questions," Chan said at a WHO meeting in Manila.

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947and can cause birth defects and can also result in microcephaly in which the baby's head is smaller than expected. According to WHO, the symptoms of Zika fever consist of mild fever, rash (mostly maculo-papular), headaches, arthralgia, myalgia, asthenia, and non-purulent conjunctivitis, occurring about three to twelve days after the mosquito vector bite.

Thailand: Health ministry confirms 2 cases of Zika-linked microcephaly
Mariam Araujo, plays with Lucas, her second child and born with microcephaly as they wait for a physiotherapy Reuters

On 4 October, the world's first vaccine for dengue was approved for use in Singapore after being reviewed for its risks and benefits for seven months. Studies have revealed that the vaccine, known as Dengvaxia, can effectively reduce dengue by 60 percent and severe dengue by 84 percent. However, according to HSA, the antidote is more effective for patients who have previously contracted dengue. Singapore is the 10th country in the world to approve the vaccine.