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China reports first case of Zika virus

Chinese health authorities said the man was infected with the virus during a trip to Venezuela in late January. Hong Kong has increased public health inspections at its airport after authorities said the city is at risk.

The National Health and Family Planning Commission on Wednesday said a 34-year-old Chinese man from the city of Ganzhou in the eastern Jiangxi province contracted the Zika virus in South America before returning to China, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The man was treated in Venezuela on January 28 before traveling home on February 5 via Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

He has been quarantined, and is receiving treatment at the Ganxian People's Hospital, where authorities said he is recovering with normal body temperature and a receding skin rash.

Chinese health authorities said the likelihood of the virus spreading was "extremely low" due to cold winter temperatures and a lack of mosquito activity.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Port Health Office has increased inspections at the airport, and it is providing reinforced training for inspectors, the city's health department said in a statement.

The department added that Hong Kong is at risk of the Zika virus spreading locally since Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, which can transmit the virus, are present in the city.

Public health emergency

On February 1, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced an international public health emergency after a review showed possible links between the "clusters of microcephaly and other neurological complications" - which leads to babies being born with abnormally small heads - and the Zika virus.

The WHO is working through a research and development cycle, with 12 groups announced on Monday, to better understand the mosquito-borne virus.

"Fogging followed by the controlled release of genetically modified mosquitoes may be worth considering for halting the spread of Zika," the WHO said on its Twitter account after saying it could take years to develop and license a vaccine.

The UN health body said it expects up to four million infections across North and South America in 2016.

ls/ng (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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