WHO says Olympic Zika virus risk is low

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

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

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