WHO head claims Zika infection risk is low at Rio Olympics

Beijing, July 29 (IANS) World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan said here on Friday that the risk of Zika virus infection at the Olympic Games, set to begin on August 5 in Brazil, is low and manageable if suitable personal measures are taken.

At a press conference in the Chinese capital, which she is officially visiting since July 25, Chan stressed she was aware of people’s concern over Zika and termed it a legitimate fear, reports Efe.

Several top-ranked golfers and some tennis players have withdrawn citing Zika virus as a concern.

However, she sought to dispel fears of infections or spread of Zika during the Rio Games, adding she herself will fly to the city next week.

Admitting a certain level of uncertainty, as every week something new about the disease comes to light, Chan said it was thus important to constantly update the relevant information and advice.

The WHO head said it is clear and there is consensus among scientists that there is a link between Zika and babies born with microcephaly or other neurological conditions.

Because of this, she underlined that WHO has advised expecting mothers or those who plan to conceive to abstain from travelling to places at risk of Zika transmission, and urged their husbands or partners, who cannot avoid making the trip, to undergo tests upon their return.

She also advocated adopting other, simpler measures such as applying mosquito repellent, wearing suitable clothing and using condoms.

Chan said that during her July 25 meeting with Chinese President Xi Jingping, they had discussed the importance of controlling mosquito-borne diseases, and praised China’s role in the fight against the Ebola epidemic that hit western Africa in late 2013.



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