Zika virus: WHO declares public health emergency of global reach

Zika virus

The World Health Organization (WHO) met Monday its emergency committee to determine if the outbreak of Zika virus suspected of causing birth defects constitutes a “public health emergency of global reach.”

This type of consultation is rare, emphasizing WHO’s concern about the possibility of the spread of the virus, which is transmitted by a mosquito bite at a global level.

The UN agency also seems anxious to forget the criticism related to its response considered too low by many at the recent Ebola outbreak in Africa.

The meeting, which began just before 13:15 was organized as a conference call between eight experts, senior officials from WHO and representatives of twelve Member States, including Brazil, the most affected countries, and Argentina, WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl told AFP.

WHO warned last week that the Zika virus was spreading “explosively” in the Americas, with 3 to 4 million cases expected in 2016. At this stage WHO will have to specify the recommendations that the authorities should take in response to the epidemic and prevent its spread as quickly.

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