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Staying safe from Zika during the Singapore F1 Grand Prix

The 2016 Singapore Grand Prix (16-18 September) is one of the highlights of the Formula 1 racing calendar, with the Marina Bay street circuit being the focal point of this year’s event. A little less than a month ago, Singapore’s first locally transmitted Zika case was confirmed. To date, 329 cases have been confirmed – including eight pregnant women. Here we will take a look at Zika in Singapore and how it may impact on your trip to the Grand Prix.

Zika update

Zika is a viral infection transmitted by the Aedes mosquito. Illness is generally mild and self-limiting, although rare and serious neurological complications have been reported. There is no vaccine or specific antiviral drugs. The virus can cause complications for pregnant women and there is now scientific consensus that it is a cause of microcephaly and other congenital anomalies. Several governments, including the UK through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, have advised citizens to postpone non-essential travel to affected countries, including to Singapore, until after pregnancy. This includes avoiding becoming pregnant 2 months after visiting a location with high risk of infection.

Current situation in Singapore

Singapore has been experiencing ongoing transmission (at rate of approximately 10-15 per day) of Zika since the first local case was reported on 27 August 2016. Surveillance and mosquito control measures are in place and have been stepped up to meet the challenges of both Dengue Fever, which is also prevalent, and Zika. The National Environment Agency (NEA) has confirmed the presence of seven Zika ‘clusters’ on the island. The largest cluster is located in Geylang, to the east of the central business district – it is the origin of 269 cases over the past two weeks. The Geylang cluster is less than three kilometers from the F1 track and main city
centre. The NEA has implemented various measures to confine the spread of the virus. This includes the use of ‘fogging’ which involves spraying toxic pesticides around residential zones and estates.

Precautions for visitors to Singapore

The Singapore Formula 1 is a night race commencing at 8pm local time which may increase your exposure risk to feeding mosquitoes. Generally, it is advisable to avoid exposure at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. We recommend a number of precautions including:

– Application of ‘tropical strength’ mosquito repellant at all times, particularly during dawn and dusk hours. Cover bare skin if possible
– Avoid known cluster locations and refer to the NEA  website (www.nea.gov.sg) for daily updates.
– Adhere to government travel warnings and advisories, particularly if you are pregnant or considering pregnancy (male and female).

For further tips on mosquito bite prevention, you might be interested in this video from beTravelwise.

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