“Stopping the spread of Zika in the Pacific is essential to protecting Australia from the virus, which has seen a resurgence in our region,” Ciobo said.
According to the statement, the initial focus of the aid program will be on strengthening prevention and response capacity to the virus in Tonga.
The Zika virus primarily affects monkeys and humans and is transmitted by daytime-active mosquitoes. A causal relationship between the Zika virus and neurological disorders including microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with small heads, is strongly suspected, although not yet confirmed.
The Zika outbreak started in Brazil in spring 2015. It has since spread across Latin America, allegedly causing several deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) has branded the current Zika virus outbreak a public health emergency.
No vaccine is available to treat the Zika virus.