NZ Govt announces Zika aid for Pacific Islands

NZ Govt announces Zika aid for Pacific Islands

The New Zealand Government has announced it will be giving $500,000 to help Pacific Islands battling the Zika virus.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully says $250,000 of that money will go to the World Health Organisation's Pacific Zika Action Plan while the rest will be given to "enable countries in the region to respond rapidly if required".

"With the Zika virus now confirmed in a number of Pacific countries, New Zealand is committed to helping limit the impact and spread of the virus in the region," says Mr McCully.

"Our package of support is targeted at prevention and detection measures and builds on our existing support for improving health outcomes in the region.

"We will continue to monitor the global and the regional situation closely and keep the need for further assistance under review."

Yesterday the Tongan government issued an official warning over Zika, advising women to avoid getting pregnant while attempts to contain the mosquito-borne virus are underway.

Tonga and other Pacific Islands are struggling to fight the virus, facing a lack of insecticide spray machines, chemicals, staff and transport.

There are hundreds of suspected cases of Zika in Tonga, with three pregnant women believed to have the virus.

Zika is currently in more than 20 countries and has been linked to thousands of birth defects in Brazil.

Australia has also contributed $500,000 to help fight the virus in the Pacific.