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WHO: No moving Olympics from Rio
May 28, 2016, 9:48 am

There are fears that the Olympics in Rio 2016 could spread the disease to previously unaffected countries [Xinhua]

There are fears that the Olympics in Rio 2016 could spread the disease to previously unaffected countries [Xinhua]


The World Health Organization (WHO) this weekend rejected calls from scholars and scientists to move the Olympic Games from host city Rio de Janeiro amid an outbreak of the Zika virus.

On Friday, public health experts and bioethicists published an open letter to the WHO highlighting the dangers the spread of the Zika virus posed for the Games and the tens of thousands of global visitors expected to attend the events.

WHO and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US describe the Zika disease as a virus spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which thrives in hot and humid climates.

It was first reported in a monkey living in the Zika Forest in Uganda in 1947, and spread to humans in Africa and Asia within a few years.

The Aedes mosquito bites an infected person and then carries the virus to another person it bites. The virus is transmitted from a mother to a child during pregnancy or birth.

In recent weeks, the CDC has learned that the virus is linked to a “broader set of complications” in pregnancy, additionally listing blindness and other eye problems as well as premature births.

There has also been increasing evidence that the virus is being transmitted through sexual intercourse.

Brazil is considered ‘ground zero‘ in the battle against the Zika virus and Rio de Janeiro has been hardest hit.

The authors of the open letter to WHO say that the dangers of exposure and transmission should be highlighted ahead of the Games. They fear that the Olympics could ultimately prove to be a staging ground for global transmission.

But the WHO reiterated its earlier position that “cancelling or changing the location of the 2016 Olympics will not significantly alter the international spread of Zika virus”.

The CDC concurred. Both organizations have called for athletes and visitors to take precautions to avoid infection.

Both organizations also said that Zika has now been identified in some 60 countries and territories and that travel between these countries has continued.

For ore on the Zika virus, click here.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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