• Malaysia officially banned school trips to Singapore and the Philippines due to the Zika virus
  • Malaysia recorded its first case of Zika earlier this month; a woman who had recently visited Singapore
  • The Zika virus is spread by the same type of mosquito that transmits dengue

The Ministry of Education in Malaysia has temporarily banned all school trips to Singapore and the Philippines due to the outbreak of the Zika virus in these countries.

“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,” Malaysian Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid told The Straits Times.

The ban came immediately after a 58-year-old woman who had previously visited Singapore became Malaysia’s first case of Zika.

Two days later, a 61-year-old woman who had no previous travel records abroad became the country’s first case of local transmission of the Zika virus.

Singapore had its first case of the virus recorded after a 48-year-old man who had visited Brazil contracted the disease last May. Another woman who had not visited any country affected by the virus became Singapore’s first local case last August.

Meanwhile, a 45-year-old woman from Iloilo City became the first case of the Zika virus in the Philippines. She had no travel record to any region affected by the virus.

Due to these cases, the travel ban imposed by the Ministry of Education remains in place until an advisory from the Ministry of Health would be updated with the situation in Singapore and the Philippines.

The Zika virus is transmitted via the Aedes mosquito, which is also the same transmitter of dengue that affects tropical countries.

Infections from the Zika virus are generally mild but can have fatal effects to unborn babies. Women who contract the virus while pregnant often give birth to infants with microcephaly, which results in smaller heads and other brain defects.