Prince Harry and Meghan will visit Australia, New Zealand, and South Pacific islands this October, however there are some concerns about the trip, as the UK health authorities have classified Fiji and Tonga as having a moderate risk of Zika virus transmission.
The disease is mainly spread by mosquitoes and for most people, it is a very mild infection and isn’t harmful. However, it may be more serious for pregnant women, as there’s evidence it causes birth defects – in particular, abnormally small heads (microcephaly).
The British NHS website’s advice for women trying to have a baby states: “It is recommended that you avoid becoming pregnant while travelling to an area with high or moderate risk of Zika virus transmission, and for eight weeks after you return home.
“It is also recommended that you take folic acid supplements for 28 days before trying to get pregnant.”
“If your male partner has travelled to an area with high or moderate risk of Zika virus transmission, you should use effective contraception to prevent pregnancy and condoms during vaginal, anal and oral sex to reduce the risk of sexual transmission.
“These measures should be taken during travel and for six months after start of symptoms (if he does experience Zika symptoms or a Zika virus infection has been confirmed by a doctor) or following his return home (if he has no Zika symptoms).”
It also recommends that those who are already expecting, should consider postponing non-essential travel to areas with a moderate risk, until after pregnancy.
This could mean that Harry and Meghan may put off having children until next year.
A source told The Daily Mirror: “The Duke and Duchess will have taken advice at the highest level before deciding that they were happy to go ahead and plan the trip.”
They added: “Every precaution will be taken. The royal couple’s health is naturally of the utmost importance.”
The Duke and Duchess land in Australia on October 16, and will attend the Invictus Games in Sydney during their trip. Their itinerary across the four Commonwealth countries will focus on youth leadership, and environmental and conservation efforts.
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