82 cases of Zika emerge from Singapore’s local outbreak in less than a week

A local Zika outbreak is blooming in Singapore, as 82 cases of the disease without links to travel have emerged on the island city-state in less than a week.

The country’s first locally transmitted Zika case was announced on Saturday when a 47-year-old Malaysian woman living in the neighborhood of Aljunied Crescent tested positive for the virus. Since then, disease detectives used surveillance techniques to identify additional cases. A second cluster of cases appeared at a nearby construction site in Sims Drive, and health officials added a batch of 26 to the tally this evening.

In response to the outbreak, Singapore authorities are conducting on-site inspections of construction workers’ quarters, distributing Zika information leaflets and providing retroactive testing. So far, officials have investigated 5,000 premises in the area for mosquito breeding grounds. Singapore’s outbreak has prompted a surge in demand for mosquito repellent.

Other countries are also taking precaution. The Washington Post reports that Indonesia installed thermal scanners at its airports to check for people who might be showing symptoms of Zika, while Malaysia has implemented health checks on buses with Singapore commuters. Of the 82 cases, 36 involve foreign workers. Australia, Taiwan, South Korea and the United States are also advising pregnant women to avoid traveling to Singapore.

Singapore reported its first travel-related case of Zika on May 13. However, it’s unclear if the local outbreak was triggered by the same strain currently afflicting the Americas or if it is a reemergence of the Asian strain of the disease.