Royal baby: Will Meghan Markle still visit Fiji and Tonga despite Zika virus risk?

The Duchess of Sussex is due to give birth to her first child in spring next year

Meghan Markle pregnant: Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry expecting a baby

Kensington Palace has announced that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are expecting their first child, with a due date falling in spring 2019.

While many people have been responding to the news with a mixture of excitement and humour, others have been expressing their concern over the prospect of Meghan visiting countries where cases of Zika virus have been found - given it can cause health complications in unborn babies.

The duke and duchess are beginning a 16-day tour of Australia and the South Pacific.

The announcement of the duchess’ pregnancy was made as the couple arrived at Sydney’s airport for a day of rest before the tour officially begins.

The couple will visit countries including Australia and New Zealand as part of the tour, in addition to Tonga and Fiji, where there is a known risk of Zika infection.

Zika virus is a disease that’s transmitted by mosquitoes.

If mothers are infected during pregnancy, it can result in babies being born with microcephaly, a condition where the circumference of the head is smaller than normal.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that cases of mosquito-borne illnesses such as Zika virus had tripled in the US since 2004.

While some may assume that the royal family would change the duke and duchess’ itinerary so as to avoid visiting countries that could put Meghan at risk of contracting Zika virus, Kensington Palace has stated that the couple will not be making any changes to their schedule.

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According to the palace, Prince Harry and Meghan have sought medical advice and will continue with the tour as planned.

The duke and duchess’ baby will be the Queen’s eighth great-grandchild and will be seventh in line to the throne.

In the statement announcing Meghan’s pregnancy, the palace said: “Their Royal Highnesses have appreciated all of the support they have received from people around the world since their wedding in May and are delighted to be able to share this happy news with the public,” the statement reads.

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