Malaysia: Educational trips to Singapore, Philippines banned over Zika fears
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Malaysia: Educational trips to Singapore, Philippines banned over Zika fears

SCHOOLS in Malaysia have been instructed to cancel any upcoming school trips to Singapore and the Philippines due to the recent outbreaks of Zika in both countries.

Malaysia’s Education Ministry issued a nationwide circular informing schools of the temporary ban to all state and district-level education authorities after a high-level meeting last week, said education minister Mahdzir Khalid.

Quoted by local newspaper Malaysiakini, Khalid told reporters during a visit to a school in Kota Tinggi on Saturday: “We have already issued a circular to all departments (in the ministry), district education offices and schools to suspend these visit to those countries due to the virus.”

SEE ALSO: Singapore: Have ‘safe sex’ or ‘no sex’ for 6 months to prevent Zika spread, WHO says

The school holidays for the second term of the year have begun in Malaysia, and schools have also been directed to ensure the grounds are clean and unsuitable for mosquitoes to breed in.

Malaysia reported its first Zika case on September 7, and two more have followed since, including the country’s first case involving a pregnant woman. The 27-year old woman, who is between three and four months pregnant, lives in Johor, a southern city right across the border to Singapore.


A traveller walks past a travel advisory on the Zika virus infection in Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Pic: AP

Health Minister Subramaniam Sathasivam said more cases are expected to arise out of Johor due to its proximity to Singapore. About 200,000 Malaysians commute daily between Johor and Singapore, reports Reuters.

As of Friday, there have been 304 cases of Zika in Singapore. According to the Straits Times, the National Environment Agency said that they are still carrying out vector control operations in all areas where cases have been found.