Florida officials said on Friday they have identified a new area of Zika virus transmission through local mosquitoes in a small area in Miami Beach, the second area in Miami-Dade county where the Zika virus is spreading.
Florida Governor Rick Scott said state health officials have identified five cases of Zika believed to be contracted in Miami Beach.
“Today the department of health has learned through one of their investigations that five individuals that have already been confirmed as cases of local transmission of Zika are connected to the Miami Beach area,” Scott said in a press conference in Miami.
Scott said the new Zika transmission zone in Miami beach is less than 1.5 square miles.
“This means we believe we have a new area where local transmissions are occurring in Miami Beach,” he said, noting that the state had already stepped up pesticide spraying efforts in this area.
Of the five new cases in Miami Beach, one person is a resident of New York, one person is a resident of Texas, and one person is a resident of Taiwan.
“All 3 of these people travelled to Miami,” Scott said.
Scott said Florida has requested additional support from the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Reporters pressed Scott on the timeliness of the announcement, which was first reported in the Miami Herald on Thursday and was confirmed by many other news outlets on Thursday, including Reuters.
“We’re going to provide timely accurate info for public health. I want everybody in the state to stay safe.”
Reporters at the press conference charged Scott with underplaying Zika transmission and delaying confirmation to minimize the effect on tourism in the state.
Scott said the state was taking every measure to ensure the information they provided to the public was accurate.