The Hospital Authority has said that it will provide Zika virus testing for at-risk pregnant women, such as those who may have been in contact with infected people, or those with a travel history – even if they show no symptoms.

It also said that it can arrange for testing for pregnant women who live in – or have visited – Sai Kung, Wan Chai, or the Central and Western District. Expectant mothers who display at least one Zika virus symptom can receive the test until the end of this month.

Mosquito sucking blood. Photo: Wikicommons.

Symptoms tend to be mild but can include rashes, fever, joint or muscle pain, headaches and red eyes.

Hong Kong confirmed its first Zika virus case at the end of August, when a woman returned to the city showing symptoms. The virus is known for causing microcephaly, a small head and brain, in babies whose mothers who are infected. Aside from mosquitoes, the virus can also be spread through sex and blood transfusions.

Dr. Dominic Tsang Ngai-chung, the Chief Infection Control Officer of the Hospital Authority, said that although testing may uncover other viruses, it is effective in eliminating those who are not infected, and can alleviate pressure for obstetrics and gynecology services.

Photo: Pixabay.

Dr. Derrick Au Kit-sing, the Director of Quality and Safety, also said that if there is an outbreak in Hong Kong, the city will follow the example of Singapore. The city state is currently seeing a Zika outbreak, where patients are quarantined at home, not in hospitals.

The authority is also looking into screening blood that is to be given to pregnant woman, said Au.

Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.