Three people have died in Venezuela after contracting the Zika virus, President Nicolas Maduro said Friday. The deaths are reportedly the first in the country linked to the mosquito-borne virus.
Maduro said, while speaking on national television, that the country has reported over 300 confirmed cases of the virus. Sixty-eight people are also hospitalized with complications confirmed to be related to the virus, Maduro reportedly said, adding that the country had necessary drugs to treat them.
"Unfortunately we have had three deaths from Zika nationwide,” Maduro said, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Venezuela has reported more than 5,000 suspected cases of Zika since November last year. Local health organizations, however, reportedly said that the actual number could likely be much higher.
The virus, spreading quickly across the Americas, is usually transmitted by mosquitoes, and is linked to brain deformities in babies. South American countries are currently boosting efforts to contain the spread.
Meanwhile, in Australia, a second pregnant woman has been diagnosed with Zika virus, authorities said Friday. The news comes days after officials said that a pregnant woman in the northern state of Queensland tested positive Tuesday.
The woman in the latest Zika case is from Victoria, the southern state's Health Minister Jill Hennessy said, adding that she was “diagnosed this week with the Zika virus after recently returning from a country where the Zika virus is prevalent.”
"The Zika virus is not present in Australian mosquitoes and there is no risk to the community that this condition will be passed on,” Hennessy said, according to AFP. "However, we are advising all people, particularly pregnant women, to avoid travelling to those countries where there have been Zika outbreaks."
So far this year, three cases of Zika virus have been confirmed in Queensland and two others in neighboring New South Wales.
The World Health Organization declared an international emergency over the virus on Feb. 1. Currently, there is no vaccine or cure for Zika.