Sunday, April 18News For London

Brazil says Olympics will go ahead in spite of Zika being named a “public health emergency”

The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will not be called off because of the Zika virus, Brazil has said.

Flag_of_Brazil.svg

Brazilian authorities emphasised that Zika poses no risk to athletes and spectators unless they are pregnant. Scientists, however, are discussing a potential link with a neurological condition known  Guillain–Barré syndrome. Symptoms of condition include rapid-onset muscle weakness and pain which could prove devastating for athletes.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a “public health emergency of international concern” on Monday following an emergency meeting. Their concern comes from the rapid spread of the virus which has now been seen in 22 countries across the Americas.

The BBC has published a video explaining the WHO’s decision:

The agencies concern also stems from the Zika’s suspected link microcephaly, a condition where babies are born with a smaller than normal head. Microcephaly can be life limiting or leave children with mild sight or hearing problems.

There is no vaccine against Zika. The only way to avoid catching it is to avoid getting bitten by the Aedes mosquitoes that transmit the infection.

In Brazil health inspectors are being used to treat stagnant water sources which the mosquito needs to breed, including inside people’s houses. Inspectors are now able to call in the police if necessary, and more than 200,000 troops have been deployed to make such inspections.

The Brazilian health ministry says about a quarter of the Brazil’s 50 million homes have been inspected so far.

Subedited by David Gregg