Zika: 38 new cases, 4 not from existing clusters
There are 38 new cases of Zika infection, confirmed as of noon yesterday, bringing the total number to 189.
Four of the new cases have no links to existing clusters, but the Health Ministry (MOH) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) did not reveal where they live.
The other 34 are linked to the Aljunied Crescent/Sims Drive/Kallang Way/Paya Lebar Way cluster.
In their joint statement, MOH and NEA continued to emphasise that vector control remains key to reducing the spread of the Zika virus.
NEA said it is continuing with its vector control operations to control the Aedes mosquito population in Aljunied Crescent, Sims Drive, Kallang Way and Paya Lebar Way.
As of Thursday, 55 breeding habitats - 30 in homes and 25 in common areas and other premises - have been detected and destroyed.
NEA has also conducted vector control operations and outreach efforts in Bedok North Avenue 3, the second cluster.
As of Thursday, there were 19 breeding grounds - 12 in homes and seven in common areas and other premises. They have been detected and destroyed.
Mosquito control measures are continuing.
Also waging war against Zika in their own way are local researchers who are trying to come up with better ways to diagnose, understand and treat the disease and to stop its spread.
The Straits Times reported yesterday that A*Star researchers are developing tests that can detect whether a person has been infected with the virus even after it is no longer found in the blood.
Zika stays in the bloodstream for only three to four days, making it hard to detect if a person is infected after the crucial window period has passed.
Scientists at Duke-NUS Medical School are also looking at how the Zika virus infect cells, to see how the virus can be targeted by drugs and antibodies.
Structural virologist Lok Shee-Mei, who is working on identifying potent antibodies that can prevent Zika infection, told The Straits Times that while Zika is considered a generally mild disease, it is closely associated with microcephaly.
This is because a small proportion of infected pregnant women have given birth to babies with abnormally small heads, so the holy grail would be to develop drugs or vaccines that can stop it.
ONGOING: NEA is continuing with its vector control operations in Aljunied Crescent, Sims Drive, Kallang Way and Paya Lebar Way. PHOTO: AFP
WHO: Singapore a 'role model' in handling Zika outbreak
Singapore has been called a role model for the handling of Zika cases and its transparency, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Dr Peter Salama, head of WHO's outbreaks and emergencies, was quoted by Reuters as saying that the country has had textbook response to the outbreak, with transparency and quick reporting.
"The way the government of Singapore has handled the outbreak really represents in many cases a role model...remembering that the first case was only confirmed really just a little over a week ago," he said yesterday after a meeting of the WHO's emergency committee on Zika.
The committee's chairman David Heymann said Singapore, with a "very technologically advanced health system", was able to identify the disease "very early". "But in other countries where it might enter at some time, that might not be the case."
Singapore is the only Asian country with active transmission of the virus.
Prof Heymann said Singapore is expected to sequence the virus strain in its outbreak next week.