Zika to be included on official list of infectious diseases

The Government would propose including the Zika virus in Macao’s official list of infectious diseases, as part of the Government’s effort further to minimise the risk of the spread to Macao of the mosquito-borne disease. The list is included in the law relating to the prevention and control of infectious diseases. The announcement was made after the Health Bureau was notified on Tuesday (9 February) by the National Health and Family Planning Commission about the first imported case of Zika on the mainland. The Government is closely monitoring developments relating to the Zika virus and has taken a series of preventive measures endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO). Key tools used in monitoring for Zika virus and preventing its transmission in Macao include: the strengthening of existing monitoring measures for infectious diseases; ensuring sufficient laboratory capacity and testing facilities for detecting the disease; the strengthening of cooperation with the WHO and with neighbouring places including the mainland and Hong Kong for information on the latest developments relating to the disease; and enhancing efforts on sharing information with the public on the risks associated with the virus. Further to safeguard public health, the Government has suspended – with effect from 5 February – accepting blood donations from those returning from affected areas, unless they have been back and symptom free for more than four weeks (28 days). This is the time period recommended by several international organisations to prevent the Zika virus from spreading via blood donations. The Government will launch a mosquito eradication campaign beginning in March in a bid to combat any threat from the virus. It can be transmitted to humans from mosquito bites. Most cases of transmission of the virus from mosquitoes to humans were reported in countries and territories in Central and South America and the Caribbean. They include Brazil, Columbia, Mexico and Venezuela. Contraction of the Zika virus by women in the early stages of pregnancy could lead to abnormalities at birth in human infants. The Health Bureau urges pregnant women and those women planning to become pregnant to consider deferring any scheduled trip to affected areas. Travellers are suggested that if they must travel to the affected areas to wear light-coloured and long-sleeved clothing, apply insect repellent, and stay in air-conditioned places or places with mosquito screens. If any symptoms of Zika infection, such as fever or rash, develop after returning from overseas, affected travellers should seek medical advice immediately.

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