Zika: WHO declares health emergency

A health ministry worker fumigates a house to kill mosquitoes in Nicaragua, on Jan 28, 2016.
A health ministry worker fumigates a house to kill mosquitoes in Nicaragua, on Jan 28, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

GENEVA • The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared an international public health emergency due to Zika's link to thousands of recent birth defects in Brazil.

It also warned that the mosquito-borne virus linked to a microcephaly outbreak in Latin America could spread to Africa and Asia, as new cases were reported yesterday - a second in Thailand and two in Australia. All three people have since recovered, according to the health authorities in both countries.

The WHO has launched a global response unit to deal with the formal response, Dr Anthony Costello, its director for maternal, child and adolescent health, told a press conference in Geneva yesterday.

He said the WHO was drafting "good guidelines" for pregnant women and mustering experts to work on a definition of microcephaly, including a standardised measurement of baby heads.

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 03, 2016, with the headline 'Zika: WHO declares health emergency'. Print Edition | Subscribe