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Authorities step up measures to prevent Zika virus entering the country

Public health authorities and partners are reinforcing preventive measures in place and stepping up vigilance at the international airport to ensure the Zika virus, which is being linked to birth defects, does not enter the country.

On Tuesday public health officials met officials from the Division of Risk and Disaster Management (DRDM) to discuss these measures and how to detect the virus in the event that a person shows symptoms of possible infection.

The Zika virus, which is causing panic in several South American countries namely Brazil where birth defects including microcephaly – which cause babies to be born with abnormally small heads are being linked to it — has also been detected in Asia, Europe and the US.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) earlier this week declared the Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern.

Fears worldwide is increasing as the virus continues to spread and pregnant women are being cautioned to avoid travelling to the infected countries, to take extra precaution to protect themselves from mosquito bites if they have to travel and to delay getting pregnant if they have travelled to these places.

Public health commissioner Dr Jude Gedeon has said public health officials will ensure all planes entering the country are thoroughly sprayed and inspected more closely and a second walk down spraying in the aisles of the plane should be carried out.

“Ongoing spraying operation in the surrounding compound of the airport is also being reinforced,” Dr Gedeon said.

Meanwhile Dr Gedeon is calling on any person who have travelled to any affected countries and who develop any rash, fever, headache, muscle and joint pains and inflamed eyes are asked to immediately report to their health centres for tests.

He added that for now test for Zika will be carried out at a health laboratory in Reunion island but Dr Gedeon said they expect to be able to carry out the test here by the middle of the year.

The Zika virus is transmitted by the type of mosquito that also transmits dengue and chikungunya.

Dr Gedeon is meanwhile calling on people to continue to maintain a high level of hygiene in their homes and to ensure all containers than can hold stagnant water are emptied, overgrown trees and bushes trimmed and rubbish properly disposed  so as to reduce breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Source : Seychelles NATION

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