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ASEAN Health Ministers Agree On ASEAN Declaration On Zika

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PUTRAJAYA – ASEAN will move as a region in addressing the Zika virus as agreed in the ASEAN Declaration on Zika.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S.Subramaniam said ASEAN health ministers had agreed on the declaration during a video conferencing on Monday to enhance the preparedness and response to Zika virus disease as well as other emerging and re-emerging diseases by implementing several strategies and measures for health security.

“During the video conference, all the ASEAN Health Ministers shared situations in their respective countries, and the steps taken by each country to tackle the problem,” he told a news conference at the Health Ministry here today.

Dr Subramaniam said confirmed Zika cases in Malaysia remained at six.

He said about 800 people, mostly from the affected areas with Zika symptoms such as fever and joint pain, had been tested for the virus but found to be negative.

Tests were also conducted on 116 mosquitoes from the affected areas namely Johor Bahru, Klang, Likas and Miri, in which the insects were randomly caught and tested, he said.

Dr Subramaniam said all Zika cases in Malaysia were Singapore related where the victim or spouse had visited the island republic except the Likas patient who only went to Skudai, Johor.

He also said that the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) had conducted studies on the three positive Zika cases and the results of these studies showed that it was from an Asian lineage and different from South America cases.

“The genome sequence for the first case in Selangor and third case, which involved a pregnant woman in Johor, showed that the genome sequence resembles the French Polynesia whilst the genome sequence for the second case in Sabah resembles local genome sequence of Micronesia,” he added.

On discussions with the National Fatwa Council on a unified stand on abortion for mothers infected with Zika virus which is linked to the birth defect, microcephaly, Dr Subramaniam said it would be held on Sept 28.

Laws in Malaysia only allowed abortion if a mother’s life was at risk although a mufti had recently approved abortion for pregnant mothers infected with Zika virus.- BERNAMA

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