Indonesia Among Nations Most Vulnerable To Zika Virus

Singapore Experiencing Rapid Surge 

Indonesia is among countries most vulnerable to the spread of the Zika virus in Asia and Africa according to a study published by The Lancet medical journal.

The researchers identified countries with high numbers of travelers arriving from Zika virus-affected areas of the Americas from Dec. 1, 2014 to Nov. 30, 2015, those with large populations at risk of the mosquito-borne Zika virus infection — countries which are hot and humid, a potential breeding ground of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the main carrier of the virus — and countries with low health expenditures per capita (and poor sewage management).

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Based on these factors the researchers said, “we found that India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Nigeria, Vietnam, Pakistan and Bangladesh have some of the highest expected risks for Zika virus importation and population health impact.”

Ironically, the report did not include Singapore, which has confirmed more cases than any other nation in Asia, so far. 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.

Thailand has reported as many as 350 cases of Zika since the start of this year. This includes 25 cases of pregnant women. A total of 387 Zika cases were confirmed in Singapore. Alarmingly, this includes 16 pregnant women have been confirmed to have Zika virus.

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“As the Zika virus epidemic in the Americas intensifies and expands, hundreds, and possibly thousands, of infected travelers are now transporting the virus to distant regions of the world,” the report said.

Despite China’s population as the world’s largest, its health expenditure per capita was larger than other high risk countries, said the report of the study funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“If you’re thinking about how to use resources, here are the places and times where you would want to use resources in the most efficient ways possible.”

The study was conducted at a time when world alarm on the Zika virus focused particularly on Brazil ahead of the recently concluded Olympic Games and the rest of the Americas. Confirmation of Zika infection in Singapore triggered worldwide alarm. Some 2.6 billion people live in Asia and the Pacific in dense tropical areas and lacked medical resources.

Meanwhile agencies quoted the World Health Organization’s (WHO) emergency committee statements that “there should be no general restrictions on travel and trade with countries with Zika transmission including Brazilian cities hosting the Paralympic Games.” Many countries including Indonesia have issued travel advisories to Singapore.

The Zika infection is known to be mild for adults but is potential dangerous for fetuses, potentially causing abnormal small heads and brain defects. However reports cited experts saying pregnant women need check ups only if they show the main symptoms including a high fever and rashes.

The WHO committee also stressed that the virus “continues to be an international health emergency due to continuing geographic expansion and considerable gaps in understanding [issues surrounding the virus].”

Meanwhile, The Star reported from Petaling Jaya in Malaysia that its citizen who became infected in Singapore was recuperating in hospital.

The husband and wife had visited their daughter in Singapore on Aug. 19 and returned on Aug 21. A week later, the woman developed rashes and a fever, and her urine tested positive for the Zika virus.

Zika Virus in Asia via

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Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at Visit Indonesia.

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