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Planes arriving in UK from Zika-affected areas to be sprayed with insecticide

Fumigation is taking place in affected countries to combat the spread of the disease. Credit: Xinhua / SIPA USA/PA Images

Aircraft arriving in the UK from countries affected by the Zika virus will have to be sprayed with insecticide, the government has confirmed.

The move is "a precautionary measure" to reduce the risk of passengers being bitten by any mosquitoes that could have entered the aircraft.

It already occurs on the majority of flights from the region as a precaution against other diseases including malaria.

Disinsection is a highly precautionary measure to reduce the risk to passengers during flights to the UK.

I want to reassure people that the risk to the UK population is extremely low. We advise people travelling to affected areas to reduce the risk of themselves being bitten by wearing mosquito repellent, long sleeves and trousers.

Pregnant women should consider avoiding travel to countries with the Zika virus - or if travel is unavoidable, they ought to seek travel health advice from their GP or a travel clinic well in advance of their trip.

– Public Health Minister Jane Ellison

Aedes mosquitoes, which transmit the Zika virus, are extremely unlikely to be able to survive and breed in the UK due to its lower temperature.

Zika, which is spreading through the Americas and can cause birth defects if pregnant women become infected, was declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday.

No cases of the mosquito-born virus have been reported in the UK, but two adults in Ireland were infected after travelling to affected countries. Both have since fully recovered.

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