The Zika virus has been put in the same category as Ebola with the World Health Organisation declaring it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) February 1, 2016
WHO director general, Margaret Chan called Zika an “extraordinary event” that needed a coordinated response.
The infection has been linked to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains in Latin America.
“I am now declaring that the recent cluster of microcephaly and other neurological abnormalities reported in Latin America following a similar cluster in French Polynesia in 2014 constitutes a public health emergency of international concern,” Chan said.
The declaration of a public health emergency means research and aid will be fast-tracked to tackle the infection.
Chan advised pregnant women:
- to consider delaying travel to areas affected by Zika
- seek advice from their physician if they are living in areas affected by Zika, as well as protect themselves against mosquito bites by wearing repellent.
Countries with active Zika transmission:
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- French Guiana
- Puerto Rico
- Saint Martin
- US Virgin Islands
- American Samoa
- Cape Verde