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MAP - publié le Mercredi 15 Juin à 14:23

Very Low Risk of Zika Virus Spreading after Olympics

Geneva - There is a “very low risk” of international spread of the Zika virus as a result of the Rio Olympics, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) emergency committee on Zika has concluded.

The panel assessed information and research on the risk of mosquito-borne diseases, particularly Zika, spreading through international travel and mass gatherings.

Dr David Heymann, chair of the emergency committee on Zika, announced that the public health emergency now includes the virus as part of it.

Speaking after the committee’s third meeting, he said: “The evidence clearly shows that Zika virus does travel internationally and it does set up change of transmission in areas where the mosquito vector is present. After having discussed the general epidemiology of Zika, the committee then focused on the potential risks connected with the Olympics and Paralympics.

“And the committee concluded that there is a very low risk of further international spread of Zika virus as a result of the Olympics and Paralympics, which is already low. The risk is already low, there is very low risk of further international spread from the Olympics.”

He further explained the panel had looked at the potential harm to people at mass gatherings. It came to the conclusion that while there was a risk of transmission at such events, it was not any worse for people travelling to the Games this summer.

In the context of Zika virus, the committee noted that the individual risks in areas of transmission are the same whether or not a mass gathering is conducted.

The WHO declared the Zika epidemic to be a global emergency in February. The majority of those infected with Zika will have no symptoms, but for others it can cause a mild illness with symptoms including a rash, fever and headache.

Serious complications that arise from infection are not common, but experts have said the virus can cause microcephaly, where babies are born with abnormally small heads due to the fact their brains have not developed properly.

Pregnant women have already been advised not to travel to Rio and the WHO has predicted the Zika risk in August would drop since it will be the south American winter and there should be fewer mosquitoes.

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