Health minister: Number of Zika cases plummets in Brazil

The number of Zika infections in Brazil has dropped precipitously just months before the start of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the country's health minister said Friday.

The number of Zika cases dropped 87 per cent between February and May, Ricardo Baros said.

The risk to athletes and the public attending the Games in August is minimal due to relatively cool and dry weather conditions combined with the preventive measures taken against Zika transmission, Brazilian authorities said.

The head of World Health Organisation (WHO) Margaret Chan said last week that "given the current level of international concern," the risks of going ahead with the Games in August should be examined.

Last month, 151 leading scientists sent an open letter to the WHO calling for the Games to be postponed or moved.

The WHO declared the virus a public health emergency of international concern in February. Zika only causes harmless flu symptoms in adults, but it causes microcephaly in babies whose mothers are infected with the virus while they are pregnant.

In March, WHO said that Latin America could be faced with thousands of cases of microcephaly, a condition in which the brain does not properly develop and a baby's head is significantly smaller than normal. The outbreak has hit Brazil hardest.

Last update: Sat, 11/06/2016 - 11:54

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