By Kevin Lui
China reported a new case of imported Zika virus infection on Sunday, April 10, bringing the country’s total case count so far to 16. The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) in Hong Kong says that it received word of the new case from health authorities in Guangdong Province.
The patient, a seven-year-old girl living in Venezuela, arrived at Guangzhou’s Baiyun International Airport on April 4. The same night, she developed skin rash on arrival at the city of Enping in Jiangmen. She did not pass through Hong Kong en route to Guangzhou.
Currently receiving treatment at home, the girl’s condition is stable.
This follows news from Vietnam of its first two cases of Zika – one of whom was eight weeks pregnant – as reported by Xinhua and Reuters on Tuesday, April 5. Xinhua additionally reported that in early March, a person in Australia had been diagnosed with the virus after returning from travels in Vietnam.
In February, after the first cases of Zika were diagnosed in China, its embassy in Venezuela advised citizens travelling to the South American country to be vigilant and protect themselves from mosquitoes carrying the virus.
The World Health Organisation, in its two most recent reports on the global situation of the virus, says that there is increasing “scientific consensus” that Zika “is a cause of microcephaly [in infants] and Guillain-Barré syndrome.”
The CHP says on Friday, April 8, that its advisory for women planning pregnancy has been updated in light of the WHO’s new findings. Women returning from areas with ongoing Zika virus transmissions should take contraceptive measures for at least two months, up from the previously recommended period of 28 days.
While no Zika cases have been reported in Hong Kong so far, the Department of Health again urges the public to take anti-mosquito action during travel and advises pregnant women to defer travelling to areas affected by the Zika virus.
“At present, around 70 to 80 per cent of infected people are asymptomatic and most can recover fully. Therefore, we again urge those arriving from Zika-affected areas to apply insect repellent for 14 days upon arrival to reduce the risk of transmission,” says the department’s spokesperson.