Updated 07:56 AM EDT, Sat, Oct 24, 2020

WHO Declares Global Health Alert Due to Zika Outbreak

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The World Health Organization declared the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus as a "public health emergency of international concern" after it was linked to a sudden increase in birth abnormality cases in Latin America.

In an official statement posted on the WHO Media Center, the international health authority announced that the Zika virus signifies a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)" after it manifested connection to an unprecedented increase in microcephaly in Europe and the Americas.

Because of this, a committee has been created to study and find a solution to the dilemma. It is now being called the "Emergency Committee on Zika Virus."

According to the statement, the cases of microcephaly linked to the mosquito-borne virus manifested in several western countries, including Brazil, France, the U.S., and El Salvador.

Furthermore, the committee made recommendations regarding the study of the virus as well as the health conditions being linked to it.

One of these is a standardized and enhanced surveillance of cases of microcephaly as well as a serious neurological condition known as the Guillame-Barre Syndrome, particularly in the areas where Zika virus is known to spread.

In a separate statement posted on the WHO Media Center, WHO director-general Dr. Margaret Chan revealed that experts from the Emergency Committee agree that "a causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly is strongly suspected, though not yet scientifically proven."

Chan dubbed the spread of the virus as "extraordinary event" because of the apparent lack of diagnostic tests to properly identify the illness, and the absences of vaccines and other immunity boosters for the populations affected.

Because of this, Chan decided to declare the increased cases of microcephaly and GBS reported in Latin America last year and French Polynesia in 2014 as "a public health emergency of international concern."

She also advised pregnant women to postpone their travel to affected areas, and seek medical advice on how to avoid catching the virus if they live in the affected areas.

As of the writing of this article, Zika virus has already reached Panama where 50 suspected Zika virus cases were confirmed on Monday, according to a report from Tico Times.

"Let's be clear: [Zika] is going to enter, it is going to spread," Panama health ministry epidemological department head Israel Cedeno told the country's TVN-2 as cited by the outlet.

In Colombia, over 1,500 cases of the Zika-linked Guillain-Barre Syndrome is being expected due to the continuous spread of Zika virus.

"We are currently talking about a rate of 2.3 cases of Guillain-Barre for every 1,000 patients with Zika. That is quite a lot," Colombia Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria explained.

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