The World Health Organisation has declared a “public health emergency of international concern” due to the apparent link of the Zika virus to a surge in serious birth defects in South America.
The WHO director general, Margaret Chan, also called Zika an “extraordinary event” that needed a co-ordinated response.
She said the link between the Zika virus and microcephaly was “strongly suspected but not yet scientifically proven.”
There have been around 4,000 reported cases of microcephaly in Brazil alone since October.
Chan said, “After a review of the evidence, the committee advised that the clusters of microcephaly and other neurological complications constitute an extraordinary event and public health threat to other parts of the world.”
She said an international coordinated response was necessary, saying that there was no reason to introduce restrictions on travel or trade. Mosquito control was the top concern.
Meanwhile, Brazil’s president has signed a measure on Monday allowing health officials access to any building to eradicate breeding grounds for a mosquito spreading the Zika virus.
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