Don’t panic,no Zika virus case detected in Brunei

National 2 minutes, 22 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Ministry of Health (MoH) yesterday advised members of the public not to panic in response to the recent Zika virus travel advisory issued by the United States (US) regarding travel to Southeast Asia, including Brunei Darussalam, and maintained that no case of Zika has been detected in the country.

In its advisory posted on its website yesterday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised pregnant women to consider postponing travel to 11 countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.

The CDC said the Zika virus is “potentially endemic in Brunei”, and that the risk to travellers in Brunei was “unknown but likely lower than in areas where Zika virus is newly introduced and spreading widely”.

“Because of the risk of birth defects in babies born to women who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant, women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their doctor and consider postponing non-essential travel to Brunei,” the CDC said.

In a statement issued yesterday, MoH said it continues to remain vigilant and has developed the ‘Ministry of Health Preparedness Plan for the Prevention and Control of Zika Virus Disease’ to prepare for eventualities.

MoH said the Zika virus surveillance programme covering both government and private healthcare facilities routinely screens all suspected cases based on current World Health Organization (WHO) definitions and guidelines, and that laboratory samples are collected for confirmatory testing.

In addition, it said a Multisectoral Task Force for the Prevention and Control of Zika Virus Disease — comprising relevant government agencies including the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Development, Ministry of Communications, Ministry of Home Affairs and the National Disaster Management Centre, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade — is overseeing all national preventive activities and capacity building to prevent, detect and control disease.

However, the ministry said that while Brunei is currently Zika-free, there was a need as a country to “maintain a heightened state of preparedness”.

MoH said it was not advising on any travel or trade restrictions with Zika-affected countries, or carrying out any screening or isolation of travellers at points of entry, which are in line with WHO guidance.

However, it advised pregnant women to avoid non-essential travel to Zika-affected areas, and for pregnant women and their spouses who have recently travelled to a Zika-affected country to adopt safer sexual practices or abstinence for the entire pregnancy.

Individuals who have visited affected countries or are travelling from the affected countries who subsequently develop symptoms such as fever, rash, conjunctivitis, headaches and muscle aches within two weeks of entry into Brunei should be assessed at the nearest health facility, MoH said.

“MoH and our relevant partner agencies will continue to monitor evolving events in collaboration with the WHO, and our counterparts within ASEAN.

The Brunei Times