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Nearly 1,400 pregnant women, families cancel trips on Zika virus fears

All Headlines 10:50 March 10, 2016

SEOUL, March 10 (Yonhap) -- Nearly 1,400 pregnant women and their families in South Korea canceled their planned flights last month on growing fears over possible Zika virus infections and the number is expected to increase, the latest data showed Thursday.

According to the data by major airline companies and the transportation ministry, 650 pregnant women and their families canceled their flights on Korean Air Lines Co. and 443 such customers decided against traveling overseas on Asiana Airlines Inc.

When customers of Jeju Air Co. and other low-budget carriers are included, the total number of pregnant women and their families who have decided not to travel abroad due to the Zika virus came to 1,376, the data showed.

The Zika virus is almost always non-fatal, but it can cause microcephaly in unborn children, a debilitating condition where a baby is born with an abnormally small head and brain.

Around 40 countries have reported Zika virus infections. The Philippines was added to the list on Wednesday, raising concerns that the virus could spread to Southeast Asia.

Of the canceled trips, Bangkok-bound travelers took up the largest share of 820, followed by 410 scheduled to leave for Phuket, the data showed. Cities they planned to travel to also included major tourist attractions in Southeast Asia, such as Hanoi and Kota Kinabalu.

Airlines and the tourist industry here are keeping tabs on any negative impact of the spreading Zika virus inflections on their businesses. South Korea is ramping up its monitoring of the infectious disease, though no confirmed cases have been reported yet.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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