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Singapore's confirms 26 more Zika cases, total rises to 82

Zika cases in Singapore escalate

Singapore on Tuesday confirmed another 26 locally-transmitted Zika cases, bringing the total up to 82, with some new victims being identified outside of the previously-affected areas.

Five of the cases live or work in Kallang Way and Paya Lebar Way, north of Sims Drive and Aljunied, the previously affected areas that have since seen 17 more cases, according to a joint statement issued by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday.

The statement added that the remaining four cases were being investigated for their links to the affected regions.

Singapore's NEA will be commencing mosquito control operations and conduct public outreach in Kallang Way and Paya Lebar Way, according to an official statement.

The agency also said it would also be inspecting construction sites and cooperate with dormitory operators, after 39 foreign workers at a Sims Drive construction site were infected with the Zika virus.

Banner against the spread of Aedes mosquitoes, a carrier for the Zika virus, at a residential block at Aljunied Crescent, Singapore on August 29, 2016.
Roslan Rahman | AFP | Getty Images

Pregnant women with Zika symptoms, or partners who tested Zika positive, are urged to get tested, the MOH said.

The virus has been linked to microcephaly, a birth defect in which a pregnant women's unborn fetus develops with a smaller-than-usual head size.

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Several countries, including the U.S., U.K. and Australia, have also issued travel advisories this week cautioning pregnant women against non-essential travel to Singapore.

Victims of the Aedes mosquito-borne Zika virus are likely to experience symptoms such as fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. The virus can also be transmitted sexually.

"There are no therapeutics or vaccines available, the only way [to prevent transmission] is to try and eliminate mosquitoes," Shee-Mei Lok, associate professor at Duke-NUS Medical School's Program in Emerging Infectious Diseases, told CNBC's "Capital Connection."

But aside from the challenges of trying to manage the mosquito population in the affected areas, there are also potentially undiscovered cases of the Zika virus which can be asymptomatic, according to the government.

The MOH has already said it would continue to work with general practitioners in the affected areas to offer testing for patients who had previously shown Zika virus symptoms, to "uncover more previously undiagnosed cases of Zika," according to an official statement released Monday.

Lok also highlighted that existing diagnostic kits were not very good at differentiating if the virus was dengue or Zika.

The Southeast Asian city-state confirmed its first locally-transmitted Zika case just last Saturday.

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