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WHO downplays Zika virus threat to Rio Olympics


The World Health Organisation has rejected calls from leading scientists to move or postpone the summer Rio Olympic games as a result of Zika virus spread.

Following calls by about 150 leading public health experts, WHO said that the current epidemic of the Zika Virus in Brazil does not significantly alter the spread of the virus.

“Based on the current assessment of Zika virus circulating in almost 60 countries globally and 39 in the Americas, there is no public health justification for postponing or canceling the games,” the WHO said in a statement.

The Rio Olympics are due to take place between 5 and 21 August.

A record number of countries are participating in a number of sports. Thousands of athletes from 206 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) will take part in the international multi sport event.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) also said it sees no reason to delay or move the games.

According to WHO, Brazil is one of the 58 countries which till date report continuing transmission of the mosquito borne virus.

Health officials suspect the Zika virus is linked to a wave of birth defects in Brazil. Moreover, reports indicate that there is a link between the virus and microcephaly which leads to babies being born with small heads with undeveloped brains.

Nevertheless, much remains unknown about the virus and whether it is the main factor behind microcephaly.

Earlier in the year, WHO declared the virus a global emergency and anticipates it will affect as many as 4 million people.

Health experts have warned the mosquito borne virus is just one of a growing number of diseases that could lead to a humanitarian crisis.


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