Singapore: 16 pregnant women confirmed to have Zika, total number reaches 387

The Ministry of Health says 658 Zika tests were conducted between Sep 7 and Sep 17 to know the exact situation of the crisis.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Friday that 16 pregnant women have been confirmed to have Zika virus infection in Singapore.

According to data on the National Environment Agency's website, a total of 387 Zika cases were confirmed in Singapore as of Friday.

Authorities said the doctors of the pregnant women are following up closely with them to provide counselling and support.

Channel NewsAsia reported that MOH confirmed 658 Zika tests were conducted between Sep 7 and Sep 17 to know the exact situation of the crisis. 197 of these tests were done for pregnant and/or symptomatic individuals.

The World Health Organisation said people infected with Zika can have symptoms including mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. These symptoms of Zika normally last for two to seven days.

The ministry added that it has plans to set up a national surveillance programme to monitor the development of babies born to pregnant women with Zika.

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that can be passed from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby. The virus can cause birth defects and can also result in microcephaly in which the baby's head is smaller than expected. This can lead to several developmental problems.

The ministry is keeping a close track on the pregnant women who have been notified to have the Zika virus infection. But, there have been no microcephaly cases associated with virus reported in Singapore so far.

Since January 1993, microcephaly has been tracked by Singapore's national birth defects registry.

The annual number of microcephaly cases, which were registered between 2011 and 2014, with the registry in Singapore ranged from five to 12 per 10,000 live births in the nation.

Apart from MOH, the National Environment Agency (NEA) is also working for reducing the Zika crisis in Singapore. It believes that the vector control operations play the key solution in reducing the spread of the Zika virus.

The agency will be continuing with the vector control operations and outreach efforts in all the potential cluster areas to destroy the breeding grounds of mosquitoes.