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Singapore praised as a ‘role model’ in handling Zika cases even as infections rise to 215

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The Ministry of Health (MOH) has confirmed that as at 12pm today (3 Sep), 26 new cases of locally transmitted Zika virus infection have been detected in Singapore, bringing the total number of locally-transmitted cases to 215. Of these, 24 cases are linked to the Aljunied Crescent/ Sims Drive/ Kallang Way/ Paya Lebar Way cluster. Two cases have no known links to any existing cluster.

The joint-statement by MOH and the National Environment Agency (NEA) further said that the National Public Health Laboratory has worked with A*STAR’s Bioinformatics Institute to complete the sequencing analysis of the Zika virus in two patients from the Aljunied Crescent/ Sims Drive cluster. The results show that the virus belongs to the Asian lineage and likely evolved from the strain circulating in Southeast Asia. The virus from these two patients was not imported from South America. The research team will release more details shortly.

A World Health Organisation (WHO) official in the meantime has praised Singapore’s handling of the Zika outbreak saying that the Republic “represents in many cases a role model”.

Dr Peter Salama, Executive Director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, pointed out the “enormous amount of epidemiological work, of lab work, of public health work, including vector control (and) the detailed follow-up including retrospective analysis of cases in Singapore”.

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“And really, we have to congratulate the transparency and the quick reporting the government of Singapore have implemented in the case of this outbreak,” said Dr Salama on 2 Sep, during a meeting in Geneva for an update on the Zika situation during and after the Olympic Games held in Brazil.

Commenting on WHO’s live press conference, Professor Paul Ananth Tambyah, President of the Society of Infectious Diseases (Singapore) and Secretary General of the Asia Pacific Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infection, said:

“The value of an open press conference – it is clear that there are several unanswered questions – on microcephaly for example – what are the data from Colombia? can we get the answers on cofactors? Hope we will have the answers soon – i like the way that they promised sequencing data from SG in the next few days!”

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