Geneva, Switzerland | AFP |
The World Health Organization on Friday announced in an online press conference that the Zika virus outbreak no longer poses a world public health emergency.
“The Zika virus remains a highly significant and long term problem, but it is not any more a public heath emergency of international concern,” the world health body’s emergency committee chair Dr David Heymann said.
— WHO (@WHO) November 18, 2016
Brazil said Friday that it will continue to treat the Zika outbreak as an emergency, even as the World Health Organization considers whether to downgrade it from crisis status.
Brazil has been the epicenter of a Zika epidemic since the mosquito-carried virus, which is blamed for causing severe birth defects, caused a global alarm last year.
The WHO was meeting later Friday in Geneva to discuss whether it would still classify the Zika outbreak as a “public health emergency of international concern.”
However in the Brazilian capital Brasilia, officials said they are not yet ready to lower their guard.
“We will maintain the emergency (status) in Brazil until we are completely tranquil about the situation,” Health Minister Ricardo Barros told journalists.
Officials say that Zika appears to be on the wane in Brazil, but that data is not sure enough to be certain.
“Last year we didn’t have enough tests (to detect Zika), so we can’t specify how the virus circulated last year,” said Wanderson Oliveira, in charge of emergencies response at the health ministry.