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Zika update: Aeroplanes sprayed to kill mosquitos

All aeroplanes that are returning to the UK from Zika countries will be sprayed with insecticide in order to stop passengers being infected, the government has confirmed.

Disinfection involves spraying a simple insecticide inside the aircraft to reduce the risk of passengers being bitten by any mosquitoes that could have entered it.

Professor Paul Cosford, medical director of Public Health England, said: "The most important advice is for people to take scrupulous measures to reduce the risk of insect bites both during daytime and night time hours."

Most flights from the region are already sprayed as a precaution against malaria, and the type of mosquito that transmits the virus is extremely unlikely to survive and breed here given the lower temperatures in the UK.

“There have been a very small number of cases where sexual transmission may have occurred, but the risk is thought to be very low,” Cosford added.

The government are recommending that men who have travelled to countries where Zika is present should use condoms for 28 days after they return, if they have a female partner who is at risk of getting pregnant or is already pregnant.

Similarly, NHS Blood and Transplant has introduced a 28-day blood donation deferral for people looking to donate blood in England and North Wales who have travelled to countries where the Zika virus is endemic.

However, this should not have a significant impact on travellers as travel to most of these countries already means a blood donation deferral of at least 28 days.

The government has also announced a further £1 million funding for research to tackle the Zika virus.

Chief medical officer, Sally Davies, said: “We are determined to support international efforts to understand how to diagnose the disease and control its spread. The UK is a world leader in medical research and I look forward to the progress this funding will undoubtedly bring.”