The World Health Organization on Friday announced in an online press conference that the Zika virus outbreak no longer poses a world public health emergency.
“The Zika virus remains a highly significant and long term problem, but it is not any more a public health emergency of international concern,” the world health body’s emergency committee chair Dr. David Heymann said.
While Zika causes only mild symptoms in most people, pregnant women with the virus risk giving birth to babies with microcephaly – a deformation that leads to abnormally small brains and heads.
The agency was careful not to dismiss the risk still posed by the virus.
“We are not downgrading the importance” of the Zika virus, said Dr. Peter Salama, director of the WHO’s health emergencies program.
The agency believes the “Zika virus and associated consequences remain a significant enduring public health challenge requiring intense action but no longer represent” a global health emergency, it said in a statement.