The World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement that the upcoming Olympics to be held in Brazil should go on as planned as there is a very low risk for the health outbreak Zika virus to be spread globally.
WHO experts said in a statement that there is no need for a cancellation of the event or moving the Olympics from Rio de Janeiro. The Olympics will be held this August and WHO reaffirmed that they are not advising travel bans or trade restrictions on the areas affected by the virus, BBC reported. It is expected that 380,000 visitors from foreign countries will be in Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics.
Zika virus is spread via mosquitoes but could also be transmitted via sexual contact. Since the outbreak, birth defects such as microcephaly have been linked to Zika. Earlier this month, WHO issued a guidance urging women in affected areas to reconsider getting pregnant and cancel their plans to have children until further notice to avoid the increase of Zika-linked birth defects.
Athletes and spectators are assured that they should not hesitate to attend the event as long as they take precautions to avoid being infected with the Zika virus. The same does not, however, apply to pregnant women. They are advised not to go to the event and avoid other areas where Zika has become an outbreak.
Dr. Bruce Aylward, the doctor leading the WHO response to Zika, said in a statement that mass gathering can "amplify a disease or can raise the risk that it will spread to other countries. You can't dismiss that, but the committee felt there should be a much lower risk from the Olympics." He also noted that WHO expects Zika to spread in Northern Argentina and the southern United States whether or not the Games take place in Brazil.
Dr. Karin Nielsen, an infectious disease pediatrician at the University of California, Los Angeles but is studying the Zika virus in Rio de Janeiro, said that there have been no new cases reported in the area in the past eight weeks since the weather began to cool down.
Not all agree with the aforementioned statements as Amir Attaran, a public health and law professor at the University of Ottawa, said that people going to the Olympics are the elite so they could take precautions. However, people who could be infected are those who will be affected once these people come home to their respective countries. Arthur L. Caplan, a bioethicist at New York University, also said last February that pushing forward with the Olympics is an irresponsible move.
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