- Meghan Markle has arrived in Fiji as part of her and Prince Harry’s royal tour despite medical advice saying pregnant women should avoid the area because of the risk of the Zika virus.
- Markle will also visit Tonga, which is also considered a Zika-prone country.
- Zika can affect the development of babies in the womb.
- Palace sources say Markle is aware of the risks and decided to carry on with the visit. It isn’t clear what kind of medical advice she may have taken.
On Tuesday, Meghan Markle began the portion of her and Prince Harry’s royal tour that brings her to countries where she will be at risk of the Zika virus, even though she is pregnant and medical advice tells expectant mothers to avoid such areas.
Markle announced her pregnancy with Harry last week when they arrived for the first stop of their 16-day royal tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Tonga.
The couple arrived in Fiji on Tuesday and will travel to Tonga on Thursday. These two countries are prone to the Zika virus.
Pregnant women are given special advice to avoid areas with a risk of the Zika virus because it can affect the development of an unborn child.
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service says pregnant women should avoid travelling to areas with a “moderate” risk of catching the Zika virus, a category that includes Tonga and Fiji. The guidelines say pregnant women should “consider postponing non-essential travel to areas at moderate risk of Zika virus transmission until after pregnancy.”
Zika can cause a birth defect called microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and abnormal brain developments.
INSIDER understands that the issue was considered by Kensington Palace, but ultimately did not affect the itinerary.
Palace sources did not go into detail on how they made the decision.
While in Fiji, the couple will attend traditional ceremonies, meet war veterans, and visit programs dedicated to the environment and women’s empowerment.
The couple are expecting their first child in spring 2019.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.