World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Margaret Chan attends a press conference on Feb 1, 2016 in Geneva after an emergency committee declared the Zika virus as an international public health emergency. The WHO is under pressure to move swiftly to tackle Zika, after admitting it was slow to respond to the recent Ebola outbreak that ravaged parts of west Africa. But although the symptoms of virus have until now appeared benign, growing indications of a link to microcephaly and a rare neurological disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome have stirred growing alarm.
In the meantime, Chan said, the world could not put off coordinating measures to protect against the spread of Zika, in the affected region and beyond. Brazil was the first to sound the alarm in the current crisis, warning in October that a rash of microcephaly cases had emerged in the northeast.
WHO said on Monday that French Polynesia had also seen a spike in microcephaly cases during a Zika outbreak there two years ago. As alarm grows over the surge in number of cases, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Jamaica and Puerto Rico have warned women to delay conceiving until the Zika outbreak is brought under control.
Since Colombia is forecasting about 657,000 cases of Zika during the epidemic, it expects over 1,500 cases of Guillain-Barre, he said. Panama meanwhile said on Monday it had registered 50 Zika cases, and jitters over the virus have spread far beyond the affected areas to Europe and North America, where dozens of cases have been identified among people returning from holiday or business trips.

WHO is looking to take resolute action on Zika after coming in for stinging criticism over its initially sluggish response to the devastating west Africa Ebola outbreak. Ebola, which has killed more than 11,000 people in west Africa since late 2013, was declared a global health emergency in August 2014 and continues to carry that label. WHO on Monday stressed to need up work to improve diagnostics and develop a vaccine for Zika – for which there is currently no treatment.
The virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also spreads dengue fever, and which is found everywhere in the Americas except Canada and Chile. Chan said efforts to ward off Zika infections, including getting rid of stagnant water where mosquitos easily breed, and using personal protection against mosquito bites such as using repellant and sleeping under mosquito nets, could not wait. WHO meanwhile refrained from issuing travel warnings, although Chan hinted that pregnant women might want to avoid travel to Zika-affected areas, if possible. An American woman was infected with the Zika virus while visiting the Philippines, health department officials said Sunday (Mar 6), the first case detected in the country for several years.
World health officials mobilised with emergency response plans and funding pleas on Tuesday as fears grow that the Zika virus, blamed for a surge in the number of brain-damaged babies, could spread globally and threaten the Summer Olympics.
HA NOI (VNS) — No cases of Zika fever have been reported in Viet Nam so far, but the Ministry of Health has said Zika might hit the country as it is spreading rapidly in Latin America.

A health worker sprays mosquito repellent on a pregnant woman's arm, during a campaign to fight the spread of Zika virus in Soledad municipality near Barranquilla, Colombia, in this February 1, 2016 handout photo supplied by the Soledad Municipality. GENEVA — Brazil warned pregnant women on Monday to stay away from the Summer Olympics after the World Health Organisation declared an international emergency over the Zika virus, blamed for causing a surge in brain-damaged babies. Graph of the symptoms of the Zika virus is seen behind of Colombia's Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria (R) during a news conference on the Zika virus in Bogota, Colombia, January 20, 2016. GENEVA — The World Health Organisation's emergency committee will today debate whether a Zika virus outbreak suspected of causing a surge in serious birth defects in South America should be considered a global health emergency. It has since become the worst affected country, with some 4,000 suspected cases of microcephaly, of which 270 have been confirmed, up from 147 in 2014.

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