Singapore is exploring plans to establish a national surveillance program to monitor the development of babies born to pregnant women infected with the Zika virus, the state-owned Channel NewsAsia (CNA) said on Friday.

Sixteen pregnant women have been confirmed to have the virus in Singapore, CNA said, quoting the Ministry of Health - a doubling of the eight cases reported on Sept. 11.

More on this...

CNA said the ministry was keeping close tabs on the women.

While most people experience mild symptoms, Zika infections in pregnant women have been shown to cause microcephaly, a severe birth defect in which the head and brain are undersized. In adults, it can cause a rare neurological syndrome called Guillain-Barre.

Island city-state Singapore reported its first locally infected Zika patient on Aug. 27, and since then the number of reported infections has risen to 387 as of Friday.

The virus is currently affecting large parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, with Brazil the hardest hit. It has also spread in other parts of Southeast Asia.