Pregnant women with Zika symptoms or partners with the virus, as well as those recommended by their doctors, are entitled to free testing at public healthcare institutions, announced the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday (Aug 30), amid climbing numbers of confirmed cases.

As of noon Tuesday, 26 more confirmed cases had emerged, bringing the total to 82 since Saturday. None are pregnant women.

All pregnant women in Singapore with symptoms of Zika, such as fever and rash and other symptoms such as red eyes, as well as those whose male partners who are Zika-positive, should be tested for Zika virus infection, said the MOH, adding that this was regardless of whether the mothers-to-be have been to Zika-affected areas.

Of the newly-diagnosed cases, 17 lived or worked in the Sims Drive and Aljunied Crescent area, where the infection first spread. Five lived or worked to the north of that are - in Kallang Way and Paya Lebar Way. The MOH and the National Environment Agency (NEA) are still tracing the remaining four cases.

The authorities also said that 111 individuals have tested negative for the virus between Monday noon and Tuesday noon.

The MOH also issued an advisory on pregnancy and Zika on Tuesday. The Clinical Advisory Group on Zika and Pregnancy, headed by National University Hospital's Professor Arijit Biswas, had met on Tuesday to review and update clinical guidelines.

Noting that Zika could have more serious consequences for pregnant women - their children could be born with microcephaly - the MOH said that pregnant women diagnosed with Zika would be referred to a maternal-foetal medicine specialist for counselling and advice.

"MOH will also arrange for her to be admitted to a public hospital for further management and care if necessary," said the MOH spokesperson. Serial ultrasounds and amniotic fluid testing - which can test for bith defects - may be considered after the potential risks and interpretation of results are discussed, the ministry added.

However, the ministry stressed that a positive Zika test does not necessarily translate to birth defects in fetuses, citing a recent New English Journal of Medicine study which found that the chances of an infected pregnant woman giving birth to a child with microcephaly was between 1 to 13 per cent.

On whether a pregnant woman with Zika should terminate her pregnancy, the MOH said it was a "personal choice" which should be made in consultation with a doctor.

Meanwhile, the NEA has inspected some 5,000 of the estimated 6,000 premises for mosquito breeding in Sims Drive and Aljunied Crescent as of Monday. Thirty-nine breeding sites were destroyed. Over 400 inaccessible premises in this area have been served notices in the same duration, requiring owners to contact NEA for inspection.

The NEA will also be launching vector control operations in Kallang Way and Paya Lebar Way.

On Tuesday, MacPherson Member of Parliament Tin Pei Ling continued her outreach to pregnant women in her constituency. Grassroots volunteers plan to visit pregnant women - a list that now numbers 20 - at least once in three days, to check on their well-being and provide updates from the authorities.

"As (the Zika virus) is relatively new, and we are learning along the way... We want to provide support in a targeted manner," said Ms Tin, who spoke to reporters before her visits on Tuesday evening.

She has also linked up with a gynecologist based in the area to provide "general support" to pregnant women who need help.

Sims Drive Medical Clinic, where Patient A, the first confirmed case of local transmission was seen, sent one suspected case to the Communicable Disease Centre to be tested for Zika on Tuesday.

Advisories have been put up at Blocks 54 and 62 Sims Drive - where some infected residents live - asking any resident who is pregnant to contact the facilities management operator acting for the Housing and Development Board.

As for Patient A, a 47-year-old Malaysian beer promoter, she was spotted at Y2000 Beer Garden coffee shop at Block 45 Sims Drive, but she declined to speak to the media. TODAY understands from her colleagues that she has been discharged for "a couple of days".

Source: Government of Singapore