Rio Olympics Going Ahead, Despite Zika Risks

WHO says that Rio Olympics are going ahead, despite the Zika risks

The World Health Organization (WHO) has given the green light for the 2016 Rio Olympics to go ahead, despite the high risk the Zika virus outbreak poses to visitors. 

In a surprising move WHO said they would not postpone or move the games, saying that they believed the games would “not significantly alter” the spread of the virus.

BBC News reports:

In an open letter to the WHO, more than 100 leading scientists had said new findings about Zika made it “unethical” for the Games to go ahead.

They also said the global health body should revisit its Zika guidance.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it sees no reason to delay or move the Games because of the mosquito-borne disease.

The outbreak began in Brazil a year ago, but now more than 60 countries and territories have continuing transmission.

Between February and April 2016, Brazil’s health ministry registered 91,387 likely cases of the Zika virus. The number of babies born with Zika-linked defects stood at 4,908 in April.

While Zika’s symptoms are mild, in the letter the experts say it causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and may also cause a rare and sometimes fatal neurological syndrome in adults.

The letter is signed by 150 international scientists, doctors and medical ethicists from such institutions as Oxford University and Harvard and Yale universities in the United States.

They cite the failure of a mosquito-eradication programme in Brazil, and the country’s “weakened” health system as reasons to postpone or move the Olympics in “the name of public health”.