A municipal worker fumigates a residential area against mosquitos deemed vectors of the Zika virus, in Bangkok, Thailand, February 5, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Thailand has reported 21 new cases of Zika infection in an up-market business neighborhood in central Bangkok, which is popular with expatriates.
“Of the 21 cases confirmed in the Sathorn area, there was one pregnant woman who recovered and gave birth successfully,” the Thai Health Ministry said in a public announcement on Sunday.
Zika infection during pregnancy could result in brain malformations in newborns.
Zika was first reported in Thailand in 2012, and the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority has been conducting regular screen tests on its residents since then.
Sixteen out of Thailand’s 76 provinces have confirmed cases of Zika since January this year, according to the Health Ministry.
However, there have been no reports of birth defects or deaths caused by the virus, and the Health Ministry urged the residents of the Thai capital not to be alarmed by the recent announcement.
Meanwhile, Malaysia on Wednesday confirmed its first case of the Zika virus in a pregnant woman, a 27-year-old living in a southern city next to Singapore.
Singapore had reported its first locally-infected Zika patient on August 27. Since then, the number of infected Zika victims on the island state has soared to more than 300.
UN warns
The World Health Organization (WHO) early this month sounded alarm over the recent Zika epidemic.
David Heymann, who chairs the WHO’s Emergency Committee on the epidemic, said on September 2 that the Zika epidemic was at an emergency level.
Heymann, who is an epidemiologist, warned that the virus is spreading across the world and has currently reached 72 countries and territories.
The Zika virus was first identified in the Zika Forest of Uganda in 1947.
It is estimated that in Brazil alone, 1.5 million people have been infected by the Zika virus and more than 3,500 cases of microcephaly were reported between October 2015 and January 2016.
There is no vaccine for Zika and efforts to eliminate the virus by using insecticides to kill carrier mosquitoes have resulted in the death of honey bees.