Zika: Isolating patients ‘no longer very effective’: Singapore health minister

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Singapore health officials saw a small downtick in Zika virus cases Monday, reporting only 16 locally transmitted cases, bringing the outbreak total to 258.

Image/CDC
Image/CDC

Of these, 11 cases are linked to the Aljunied Crescent/ Sims Drive/ Kallang Way/ Paya Lebar Way cluster. One case is linked to the Joo Seng Road cluster. The other four cases have no known links to any existing cluster.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said they will be changing how things are being done in the current outbreak in an interview with the Singapore news source, Channel NewsAsia today.

He stated that they will no longer be isolating patients who have contracted the Zika virus as the method is “no longer very effective”. Isolation techniques were implemented early in the outbreak prior to understanding the extent of it.

The minister points out, “Also bearing in mind that there are 80 per cent of our infected patients do not have symptoms and therefore they are not treated by our doctors. Just isolating 20 per cent of our symptomatic patients has very limited effect,” he added. “Therefore, isolation will no longer be very effective.”

Minister Gan says vector control is the key to handling the outbreak, “We have always expected Zika to come to Singapore, so we have involved a three-pronged strategy to help us with Zika,” he said. “The first is surveillance … the second is detection and identification of clusters and managing them. We have been doing that so far.

“The third strategy is to work on long-term management of the disease. Zika is very difficult to eradicate totally from Singapore, primarily because we have a presence of Aedes mosquitoes here. Therefore we need to work a long-term strategy in managing Zika in Singapore, and the primary focus is, of course, vector control,” Mr Gan said.

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