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Taiwan to intensify Zika prevention measures at airports

Taiwan to intensify Zika prevention measures at airports

Taipei, Feb. 3 (CNA) Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will strengthen surveillance and preventive measures against the Zika virus, as the outbreak has continued to spread to countries and territories in Central and South America, and the Caribbean, CDC Deputy Director-General Chou Jih-haw said Wednesday.

Chou said the CDC will intensify an information campaign and screening measures against Zika at airports and strengthen checks for mosquitoes on flights bound for Southeast Asia.

Chou unveiled the plan a day after the CDC established an epidemic command center headed by CDC Director-General Steve Kuo to combat the Zika virus. As spokesman for the epidemic command center, Chou said that according to the information collected by the center, 254 Taiwanese tourists in 13 tour groups organized by four travel agencies will visit Central and South America during the nine-day Chinese New Year holiday that begins Feb. 6, and the CDC has communicated with the travel agents to provide information material such as leaflets and posters, at airports in Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung and Kaohsiung.

The CDC has warned travelers to take precautions against mosquito bites if they travel to affected areas, and has recommended that pregnant women put off traveling to such areas.

It will also strengthen fever screening at airports for inbound passengers from Zika-affected areas.

The epidemic command center is set to hold a panel meeting on Friday to discuss epidemic prevention measures.

The CDC's epidemic command center was established one day after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus a serious threat and a "public health emergency of international concern."

In some areas of Central and South America, the mosquito-borne disease has been associated with a spike in birth defects and neurological syndromes, according to the WHO.

In view of the Zika emergency, the CDC has issued a travel alert for Central and South America and the Caribbean, the second-highest advisory in its three-tier system.

It has also issued a travel watch, its lowest advisory, for Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and the Maldives.

The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, which also transmits dengue fever, chikungunya and yellow fever, according to Chou.

The symptoms of a Zika infection include mild fever, joint and muscle pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and a rash.

Zika infections were reported for the first time in Yap Island in the Pacific in 2007.

Other reports of the virus followed in 2013 in French Polynesia, and in 2015 in Brazil, Colombia and Cape Verde. More than 13 countries in the Americas have now reported sporadic Zika infections, indicating a rapid geographic spread of the virus.

The virus has also been linked to microcephaly -- a condition where a child is born with a smaller-than-normal head and impaired brain development -- in Brazil and Hawaii, where pregnant woman may have contracted the mosquito-borne virus and transmitted it to their unborn babies. (By Chen Wei-ting and Evelyn Kao)

Updated : 2021-08-01 03:49 GMT+08:00