China confirms first Zika virus case, says Xinhua

Source: Wikipedia

China has confirmed its first imported case of the deadly Zika virus, state media agency Xinhua reported in the early hours of Wednesday.

Citing the Naitonal Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), Xinhua said the patient was a 34-year-old man from Ganxian county in Jiangxi province and who had recently traveled to Venezuela. The man developed symptoms on Jan. 28, before travelling through Hong Kong and Shenzhen to his hometown on February 5.

The man had been quarantined and treated in a Ganxian hospital since Feb. 6 and was recovering, with a normal temperature and a fading rash, the media outlet reported.

The NHFPC said the risk of the virus spreading as a result of the case was "extremely low due to low temperature," Xinhua reported.

Zika, for which there is currently no vaccine, has been reported in 33 countries, mostly in the Americas.

On February 1 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika a public health threat, and raised the possibility that there could be up to 4 million cases of the virus in the Americas alone. It was the first time the WHO had declared a public health emergency since the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014.

Zika causes few or no symptoms in most people who are infected, but has been blamed for a spike in the number of babies born in Brazil with microcephaly, after their mothers contracted the mosquito-born virus while pregnant. Microcephaly causes babies to be born with an abnormally small head and is usually accompanied by intellectual impairment.

On Monday U.S. President Barack Obama said he would ask Congress for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to fight Zika in the U.S. and elsewhere. There have been about 50 confirmed cases of Zika in the U.S.

On Monday, Hong Kong's Secretary for Food and Health, Ko Wing-man, said that the city should be "psychologically prepared" to deal with its first case of Zika, the South China Morning Post reported. Ko said the government would push ahead with anti-mosquito controls.

The SCMP reported that Indonesia and Thailand had reported one case each of Zika so far. The virus is a concern for Asian countries, which already wage a constant battle against the mosquito-born dengue and malaria viruses.

- Reuters contributed to this report.

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