14 December 2019 (closed)
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Indonesia's Ministry of Health - in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - issued a 'travel advisory' for Singapore as the small Southeast Asian nation has been plagued by an outbreak of the Zika virus. By Wednesday (31/08), 82 people were reported to have been infected by the virus in Singapore. By issuing the travel advisory Indonesian authorities discourage citizens from traveling to Singapore, particularly pregnant women are warned. Indonesia is no stranger to mosquito-borne illnesses. The country has to cope with frequent outbreaks of dengue fever and malaria.
Singaporean authorities announced that the outbreak of the Zika virus had now infected 82 people (36 of which are foreign construction workers who work on projects in the eastern part of Singapore). Besides Indonesia, the United States, Australia, Taiwan and South Korea have also issued travel warnings to Singapore due to the emergence of many Zika virus cases. Especially pregnant women - or those women who have plans to become pregnant shortly (for example newlyweds) - should rethink about visiting Singapore, and/or - after exiting Singapore - should postpone a pregnancy by a period of at least two months.
Earlier, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the Zika virus, which is caused by the bite of the Aedes Aedyptii mosquito, spread rapidly in the Americas, while other parts of the world need to be on the lookout. The Switzerland-based institution expects to see a total of between 3 million and 4 million Zika cases in 2016. The disease, first discovered in Uganda in 1947, has symptoms similar to those of dengue fever, such as fever, headache, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. It is suspected that birth defects (including microcephaly) can occur when pregnant women become infected by the Zika virus. Brazil reported more than 1,800 cases of microcephaly so far this year. According to the WHO, Zika cases are now found in 45 countries.
In February 2016 the Indonesian government confirmed that there was one case of the Zika virus in Jambi (Sumatra). In Singapore there are stories that one Indonesian citizen is among the 82 people infected. However, Indonesian authorities have not confirmed this case.
In Indonesia authorities have stepped up health security checks at immigration points. As there is a lot of passenger traffic between Singapore and Indonesia there is a serious risk that the virus can be spread to Indonesia if no security measures are implemented. People traveling from Singapore who show signs of a fever will need to give blood samples. Health scanners have also been installed at points of entry.
While Singaporean authorities have complained about the rising level of unhealthy air over the past couple of weeks (caused by haze that spread to Singapore due to man-made forest fires in Indonesia; a "normal" phenomenon around August), Indonesia is now eager to combat the possible spread of the Zika virus - from Singapore - to the Archipelago.