A city worker fumigates the area to prevent the spread of mosquitoes at a temple in Bangkok
(Copyright Reuters 2016)
BANGKOK – Thai health officials on Wednesday said 33 new Zika virus cases have been discovered in the country as officials step up screening for groups with a high risk of the disease, such as pregnant women.
“We confirmed 33 new cases last week and have discovered that the virus in two other provinces, the Ministry of Health spokesman Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai told Reuters.
Suwannachai said health campaigns warning travellers about Zika are increased if the Thais flock to the capital Bangkok to take part in national mourning activities for King Bhumibol Adulyadej, died on Oct. 13.
“This is a period of movement, with people coming to the capital from the provinces to take part in various activities,” he said. “We need to remind them that Zika is a silent disease, and some people will not have the symptoms.”
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Thailand was the first country in Southeast Asia in September to confirm Zika-linked microcephaly, a condition that results in babies being born with small heads, and has one of the highest number of Zika cases in the region.
Other parts of Southeast Asia have reported dozens of cases of Zika, including the city-state of Singapore, where 450 cases have been reported in 2016.
Thailand has reported more than 680 cases of Zika since January, but the Department of Disease Control said that the virus is manageable.
In neighboring Myanmar, a pregnant foreign woman was diagnosed with the mosquito-borne virus last month – the first case confirmed in the country.
Zika infections in pregnant women have shown that microcephaly – a severe congenital anomaly in the head and brain of small – and other abnormalities in the brain.
The connection between Zika and microcephaly first came to light in Brazil, which has confirmed that more than 1,900 cases of microcephaly.