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Malaysia bans school trips to Singapore

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Malaysia's Education Ministry has imposed a temporary ban on school trips to Singapore and the Philippines as part of its bid to prevent the spread of the Zika virus.

The ministry informed local education authorities about the ban on Sept 1, Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid said yesterday.

"A circular was issued to all district education offices, state education departments and schools for all trips to Singapore and the Philippines to be postponed for the time being because of the cases of Zika in those countries," the New Straits Times quoted Datuk Seri Mahdzir as saying.

On Sept 1, Malaysia had reported its first case of Zika in a 58-year-old woman who had visited Singapore. On Sept 3, it recorded its first locally transmitted Zika case, a 61-year-old Sabah man who did not have any recent history of travel abroad and later died of heart-related complications.

Singapore reported its first locally transmitted case of the Zika virus on Aug 27. The patient was a 47-year-old woman who had not travelled to any Zika-affected areas.

The first Zika case in Singapore was recorded in May after a 48-year-old man who had visited Brazil tested positive for the virus.

The Philippines has also reported its first case of locally transmitted Zika infection for the year, with a 45-year-old woman in the central city of Iloilo, testing positive. She also had no recent history of travelling to any Zika-affected country.

Mr Mahdzir said the Education Ministry's directive will remain in place until the country's Health Ministry issues an update on the Zika situation in Singapore and the Philippines.

A Singaporean woman in Taiwan has become the seventh imported case of Zika there, The Straits Times reported. The 20-year-old from Aljunied Crescent was travelling with friends when she was hospitalised with a rash, joint pain, headache and conjunctivitis, and tested positive.

She is likely to have caught the mosquito-borne virus in Singapore, Taiwan's Centre for Disease Control said. She will be isolated till tomorrow.

There were 14 new cases of Zika in Singapore as of noon yesterday, Singapore's Health Ministry said.

A potential new cluster was found in the Jalan Raya/Circuit Road area, involving one new case.

Seven of the new cases were found in the Aljunied Crescent/Sims Drive/Kallang Way/Paya Lebar Way cluster.

One is linked to the Bishan Street 12 cluster and one to the Bedok North Avenue 3 cluster. The remaining four cases have no known links to existing clusters. The total number of locally transmitted cases stands at 318.

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