Zika Threat: WHO rejects the call to postpone or move Olympics from Rio

The letter to WHO is signed by 150 international scientists, doctors and medical ethicists from such institutions as Oxford University and Harvard and Yale universities in the United States

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FILE - A municipal worker prepares insecticide to be sprayed at Sambodrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jan. 26, 2016. The Sambadrome will be the site of the archery competition during the Rio Olympics. Image source: Reuters
  • Zika virus also is linked to serious birth defects
  • The outbreak began in Brazil a year ago in 2015
  • Abnormal small heads are seen in newborn babies affected with the virus

Good news for people who are eagerly waiting for 2016 Olympics. The World Health Organization (WHO) has rejected a call to move or postpone this summer’s Rio Olympic Games over the Zika outbreak, reported BBC.

Zika virus also is linked to serious birth defects. WHO said that delaying the Olympics or shifting it from Rio would “not significantly alter” the spread of the virus.

Renowned scientists from all over the world wrote an open letter to WHO saying that the global health body should go through the new Zika guidance and that the new findings about the virus has made it “unethical” for the Games to go ahead.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it sees no reason to delay or move the Games because of the mosquito-borne disease.

More than 60 countries and territories are continuing with the transmission, while the  outbreak began in Brazil a year ago.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Thomas Frieden speaks at the National Press Club in Washington on the latest research and forecasts on the Zika virus, May 26, 2016. Image source: AP
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Thomas Frieden speaks at the National Press Club in Washington on the latest research and forecasts on the Zika virus, May 26, 2016. Image source: AP

While mild symptoms are seen in people affected with Zika, in the letter, the experts mention it causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and may also cause a rare and sometimes fatal neurological syndrome in adults.

This letter is signed by 150 international scientists, doctors and medical ethicists from such institutions as Oxford University and Harvard and Yale universities in the United States.

They cite the failure of a mosquito-eradication programme in Brazil, and the country’s “weakened” health system as reasons to postpone or move the Olympics in “the name of public health”.