WHO says Olympic Zika virus risk is low
BEIJING: The risk of Zika virus infections at the Olympic Games is both low and manageable, the chief of the World Health Organisation said yesterday, a week before the event kicks off in Rio de Janeiro.
Nearly half a million people are expected to visit for the Games and worries about security, the Zika virus and an economic crisis could deter travellers, with just under a third of event tickets as yet unsold.
Brazil has been hardest hit by the disease outbreak, and many physicians, competitors and potential visitors have expressed fears the Olympics could serve as a catalyst to spread the virus globally.
“We feel that the risk of Zika infection is low for an individual, and it is manageable as long as individuals take appropriate personal protective measures, including the use of a mosquito repellent and wearing clothing that prevents mosquito bites,” Margaret Chan, director general of the world health body, said.
There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, which is spread primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito, although it can also spread through sexual transmission.
“When you go to Brazil, to Rio, practice safe sex, please use condoms,” Chan said.
Global health officials are racing to better understand the virus, which has spread to many countries in the Americas.
The WHO said there was strong scientific consensus Zika is a cause of the birth defect microcephaly. – Reuters