No need to cancel or postpone Olympics due to Zika, says UN health agency

04-15-2016ZikaPAHO
Photo: WHO/PAHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that based on the current assessment of the Zika virus circulating in almost 60 countries globally and 39 countries in the Americas, there is no public health justification for postponing or cancelling the 2016 Olympic Games.

In a news release, WHO noted that Brazil is 1 of almost 60 countries and territories which to date report continuing transmission of the Zika virus by mosquitoes, and therefore cancelling or changing the location of the Olympics – which are scheduled to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 5 to 21 August – will not significantly alter the international spread of the virus.

“People continue to travel between these countries and territories for a variety of reasons. The best way to reduce risk of disease is to follow public health travel advice,” the agency said.

WHO said it advises pregnant women not to travel to areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission, which includes Rio de Janeiro. In addition, pregnant women’s sex partners returning from areas with circulating virus should be counselled to practice safer sex or abstain throughout the pregnancy, the agency said.