Brazil announced late Monday that the Rio Olympics will not be cancelled because of the Zika virus outbreak. While Brazilian authorities expressed confidence despite the explosive spread of the virus in the Americas, Honduras declared a state of emergency as the number of infections linked to Zika virus increased at an “alarming” rate.
Authorities in Brazil reportedly said Monday that there was no risk to athletes and spectators at the Rio de Janeiro Games this summer. However, President Dilma Rousseff’s chief of staff reportedly said that pregnant women should not travel to Brazil for the Games because of the risk posed by the Zika virus.
“The risk, which I would say is serious, is for pregnant women. It is clearly not advisable for you (to travel to the Games) because you don’t want to take that risk,” cabinet chief Jaques Wagner reportedly said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Monday that the Zika virus outbreak was a public health emergency of international concern.
Wagner said Rousseff viewed the WHO’s move as “positive” because it “alerts the whole world, including the scientific world, to the danger of the new virus,” Agence France-Presse reported.
The Brazilian health ministry reportedly said that about 25 percent of the country's 49 million homes have so far been inspected.
Zika was first detected in Africa in 1947, but was considered a relatively mild disease until the current outbreak was declared in Latin America last year.
Meanwhile, Honduras declared a national emergency to fight the virus, after recording 3,649 suspected cases of Zika infections in less than three months.
The health ministry said the government has reactivated the National Risk Management System to coordinate preventive measures to fight the Zika virus, the Associated Press reported.