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Why Harry and Meghan's big tour may affect the couple's plans to start a family

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be making their first big overseas tour as a married couple Credit: PA

I start this post by saying that it’s none of my business, or anyone’s business, whether the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are planning to have children anytime soon, or whether they want to have a family at all.

However, I’m writing this because of the current UK government’s travel advice for two of the countries to which the royal couple plan to visit on their big tour later this year.

And it might mean that Prince Harry and Meghan will have to postpone any plans they might have to start a family for a further six months.

Kensington Palace announced earlier in the summer that the newlyweds will travel to Fiji and Tonga as part of their four-country visit to the South Pacific in October.

It’s their first big overseas tour as a married couple.

But Fiji and Tonga have both been classified as having a "moderate risk of Zika virus transmission".

Kensington Palace announced earlier in the summer that the newlyweds will travel to Fiji and Tonga Credit: PA

And because of that, pregnant women have been told to "consider postponing non-essential travel until after the pregnancy".

Anyone who remembers the stories of the Zika virus in Brazil (and 30 other countries) will recall how the virus has been linked to birth defects.

Particular concern surrounded the neonatal condition microcephaly, where babies are born with abnormally small heads and restricted brain development.

Therefore, pregnant women and couples who are planning to start a family have been given particular advice about travel to affected areas like Fiji and Tonga.

The virus is mainly spread by mosquito bites and, whilst the greatest risk is to travellers who spend a long period in the country, the government advice says "even short-term visitors may be exposed to the virus".

The zika virus is spread mainly by mosquito bites Credit: AP

The Foreign Office also says any couples travelling to countries with a high or moderate Zika risk cannot try to get pregnant until "six months after return or after last possible Zika virus exposure".

It’s because the virus persists in the parents’ body – and can therefore affect a foetus - for up to six months.

The Foreign Office directs travellers to a Department of Health website which clearly states: "Couples should … avoid conception while travelling and for up to 6 months on return."

Currently, there is no vaccination or medication to prevent Zika infection.

Microcephaly has been linked to the mosquito-borne Zika virus Credit: AP

The only prevention is to try to minimise mosquito bites – particularly in daylight hours when the mosquito that spreads the virus is most active.

The number of cases of the Zika virus has fallen dramatically and in 2017 Brazil declared its public health emergency was over.

However, Brazil, like Fiji and Tonga, is still considered to pose a ‘moderate risk’ of transmission.

No details of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s tour have yet been released but it’s thought Harry and Meghan intend to travel to Fiji and Tonga after attending the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games in Sydney on Saturday 20 October.