Zika no longer a health emergency: WHO; Brazil disagrees
The World Health Organization declared that the Zika virus outbreak was no longer a world public health emergency. However, WHO warned that the epidemic still remained a challenge. In spite of WHO's declaration, Brazil which is the epicenter of the virus, refused to demote the danger and lashed out against the WHO decision. Brazil said it would continue to treat it as an emergency.
The Zika virus was first isolated in 1947 from a rhesus monkey in the Zika Forest of Uganda. Transmitted to humans by mosquitoes, Zika is largely un-symptomatic, sometimes causing rash, fever and headaches and is a non-fatal disease. However, when pregnant mothers are exposed to the Zika virus, scientists have discovered that it has the tendency to cause neurological complications, including microcephaly in newborns.
Microcephaly is a condition that affects the brain development in babies causing infants to be born with abnormally small heads. The disease is untreatable, causing severe developmental issues and sometimes early death.
The Zika virus was detected in Brazil in 2015. Experts suspect tourists from Asia or the South Pacific may have brought the exotic virus to Brazil during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. As of February 2016, 2,572 cases of microcephaly, including 40 deaths, have been notified in 20 Brazilian states. 134 were confirmed as being related to Zika, while the rest are under investigation.
South Korea confirmed its first case of the Zika virus, in a man who had recently returned from a visit to Brazil. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention said the 43-year-old was diagnosed earlier and was being treated in Gwangju city. South Korea said the infected man had been quarantined and his movements had been tracked since he returned from Brazil.
Bangladesh's Health Ministry confirmed its first case of the Zika virus in an old sample of blood from a 67-year old man who had not been overseas. Junior Health Minister Zahid Maleque told a news conference that the man lives in the southeastern port city of Chittagong and was well. Authorities also said that none of his relatives had tested positive.
The Spanish Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality confirmed a total of 58 cases of the Zika virus infection in the country. The ministry said that all of the cases have been imported by people who were infected while visiting countries where the virus was prevalent. The number of confirmed Zika cases in Spain has risen by 15 over the past two weeks.
Authorities in Singapore said they identified the first confirmed case of Zika infection in a citizen. The patient is a 48-year-old male Singapore permanent resident who had traveled to Sao Paulo, Brazil, from 27th March to 7th May. The patient developed fever and rash and was admitted to Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital. Following blood tests, doctors confirmed that he was infected with Zika.
Authorities have issued a fresh advisory to pregnant travelers to avoid visiting almost 20 blocks comprising of some of Miami's biggest tourist spots. Officials said the Zika virus has spread to the beach areas as well as other popular tourist destinations since the last warning was issued earlier this month. Officials added that women should also avoid traveling to the Miami-Dade county in general.
13 Indian nationals tested positive for the deadly Zika virus in Singapore. The development was confirmed by the Ministry of External Affairs which issued a statement in this regard. MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup made the official statement that said, "according to our mission in Singapore 13 Indian nationals have tested positive for Zika in Singapore."
Singapore began investigations into the strain of Zika virus present in the country after an alarming spike in the number of cases. Authorities said the strain of the virus found in Singapore is different from the one that originated in Brazil. 333 people have been infected in Singapore so far. Authorities suspect this strain to be more virulent than the Brazilian strain.