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Zika unlikely to spread on mainland, officials say

Zhang Yi
Updated: Sep 9,2016 8:49 AM     China Daily

China’s top health authority said on Sept 8 there is no sign of spread of Zika virus on the Chinese mainland and a contingency plan involving 18 central government organizations was set up to cope with the disease.

Song Shuli, spokeswoman for the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said in a news briefing that 22 imported Zika virus cases were reported in China as of Sept 5 and all patients had recovered.

“Our commission is paying close attention to the development of the epidemic. A contingency plan has been launched and 10 measures have been adopted to prevent any spread of the disease, including practicing quarantine measures at customs and adopting precautionary measures,” Song said.

Efforts have been made to reduce the mosquito population nationwide, and conditions in seven provinces and regions in Southern China are being monitored.

On Sept 7, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine asked travelers to countries where the virus is prevalent to be extra cautious and avoid mosquito bites.

More than 250 cases of Zika virus have been reported in Singapore this month, 30 of them involving Chinese citizens.

People entering China from countries affected by the virus should present themselves to the quarantine staff if they have any of the symptoms, such as fever, joint pain, rashes, conjunctivitis, headaches and muscle pain, the administration said.

The administration asked people planning to travel to 58 countries and regions hit by the virus to take measures to avoid mosquito bites-such as wearing light-colored, long-sleeve shirts and long trousers and using mosquito repellent and nets while sleeping.

Zika is mainly spread by mosquitoes. The outbreak began in Brazil and spread through the Americas. Other Southeast Asian countries, such as Malaysia and Thailand, have also reported Zika cases.

Song said the commission had organized medical experts to evaluate the risks of Zika spreading in China. The experts found that there is little risk of a large-scale spread of the illness in the country, though it faces an increased risk of imported Zika, especially from Southeast Asian countries.

According to the World Health Organization, the risks in China will depend on imported cases, the presence of mosquitoes that can transfer the virus and the country’s ability to detect and respond to its spread. The mosquito is the same type that spreads dengue and chikungunya, making the risk greater in areas in Southern China, such as parts of Guangdong, Yunnan and Hainan provinces.

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