Indonesia Expat

Zika Spreads in Singapore, Indonesia Issues Travel Advisory

Zika virus

According to Indonesia’s health ministry, the Zika virus has infected more than 82 people in Singapore.

Indonesia’s health ministry has released a travel advisory, telling locals not to fly to Singapore. This is not because it’s full of dangerous haze created by companies in the archipelago, but because the much-talked-about Zika virus has invaded the Lion City.

Kompas quoted the archipelago’s Health Minister Nila F. Moeloek, who said, “If you are planning to travel to Singapore, please consider your priorities. If it is urgent, you can go, but otherwise, please put the trip on hold.” According to Indonesia’s health ministry, the Zika virus has infected more than 82 people in Singapore.

Moeloek confirmed that there has been one confirmed case of the Zika virus in Indonesia. The victim was located in Jambi, and the infection was reported several months ago, during the initial wave of Zika concern. “We discovered it by accident. At that time, we were conducting research on dengue fever. But after further investigation, the results actually came back positive for the Zika virus,” Moeloek told Tempo on Tuesday, August 30.

The Zika virus grabbed media attention again in recent weeks after 41 cases were reported in Singapore. Since then, the number of cases has grown. One of the first reported infections was a 48-year-old man who travelled to Singapore from Brazil. As a result, the Indonesian government says it wants to remain vigilant about Zika entering the country.

Zika Spreads in Singapore, Indonesia Issues Travel Advisory2
Image by Day Donaldson

The minister claimed the government would not let its guard down, even though there have not been any more reported cases of Zika yet in Indonesia. Moeloek said officials are on high alert, adding, “It is still not proven that the Zika virus causes microcephaly. But there has been a warning, especially for those who’ve just come back from Brazil. We are checking whether those who just returned from the Olympic Games have been infected by the virus.”

Indonesia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi told Kompas on Tuesday, August 20 that his team received word that one Indonesian got infected with Zika in Singapore. However, Marsudi added that this news had not yet been confirmed. “Our embassy in Singapore is currently trying to confirm the case of an Indonesian national who may or may not have been infected in Singapore. Currently, we are still waiting,” said Marsudi on Wednesday, August 31.

Health organizations around the world strongly suspect Zika to cause microcephaly in unborn babies when pregnant mothers are bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus. Babies with the condition are often born with abnormally small heads and tend to have brain defects. Countries like Australia, Taiwan, and South Korea have advised women who are pregnant or may become pregnant to avoid visiting countries where cases of Zika have been reported, including Singapore.

In adults, the Zika virus usually has far less of an impact than it does on unborn babies. Similar to general infections, the patient will likely have a sudden fever, skin rashes, joint pains, and other symptoms. Patients will also likely have a strong headache. Unlike dengue, the patient’s eyes may turn red due to conjunctivitis when infected with Zika.

To pregnant expats who don’t urgently need to fly to Singapore, it might actually be wise to skip the Formula One race coming up in a couple weeks. If you do need to be a cowboy about it, perhaps it would be wise to bring lots of mosquito repellent.


Featured image via Agência Brasília

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