HCM City sees 19 new Zika cases in 2017 hinh anh 1A resident of Binh Tan district learns about preventive methods against dengue fever and Zika infections (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) – Nineteen Zika virus cases have been reported in HCM City since the beginning of the year, according to the city Preventive Health Centre.

Since April 2016, when the first case was reported, 210 people in the city have tested positive for the Zika virus, which is transmitted via infected Aedes mosquitoes.

Of the 210 patients, 51 were pregnant, said Dr Le Hong Nga, head of the centre’s contagious diseases’ control division, at a monthly meeting with the city’s Department of Health and district-level health centres on May 2.

Of the pregnant patients, 19 gave birth to babies with no visible birth defects, including an abnormally small head, which sometimes occurs with Zika infections.

Nga has instructed all district-level health centres to strengthen surveillance and reduce the density of mosquitoes in high-risk areas.

Preventive methods can also help control dengue fever, which has seen a downward trend in the first four months, with 6,501 new incidences, a decrease of nearly 20 percent compared to the same period last year.

“However, several districts such as 5, 10, Go Vap, Tan Binh and Can Gio have wards with an increase in dengue cases,” she said.

Inspection of the city’s 13,636 high-risk sites should be strengthened, she said.

Last month, municipal health officials checked only 50 percent of these areas and fined violators at eight of them.

Dr Dang Quang Tai of the department’s Health Communication and Education Centre said that district-level health centre officials had provided information about preventive methods, including dengue fever and Zika viruses, to all households in high-risk areas.

In District 12, for instance, health officials travelling on motorbikes have communicated information with loudspeakers on alleys and roads.

However, communication staff at several district-level health centres lack necessary skills and have been ineffective in educating local residents. –VNA