After 150 public health officials called to postpone or cancel Brazil’s 2016 Olympic Games due to the Zika virus outbreak, the World Health Organization responded on Saturday, saying there’s no “public health justification” to do so.
The authors of the May 28 letter also claim that the virus has seen a dramatic increase in spite of efforts made to diminish the number of individuals affected.
Zika has been linked to a variety of health defects, such as babies born with severely small heads, and neurological problems that can be fatal or lead to temporary paralysis in adults. The virus is carried and transmitted primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, according to the CDC. Countries and territories affected by Zika can be seen here.
The New York Times writes:
Several public health academics previously warned that having hundreds of thousands of people travel to Brazil for the Olympics, from Aug. 5 to 21, would inevitably lead to the births of more brain-damaged babies and speed up the global spread of the virus.
In their response, the W.H.O. said, “Based on current assessment, canceling or changing the location of the 2016 Olympics will not significantly alter the international spread of Zika virus.”
The W.H.O. declared the spread of Zika in the Americas to be a global emergency in February, writes The Times.