Wednesday, February 3, 2016

DFA: No plan yet to issue travel advisories for Zika-hit countries

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday said that it has no plan yet of issuing travel advisories for  countries with Zika virus outbreak.
"We have no plans at this time, but we continue to monitor the situation," DFA spokesperson Charles Jose told GMA News in a text message when asked about the issuance of travel advisories related to Zika virus.
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan told reporters that coordinated international action was needed to improve detection and expedite work on a vaccine and better diagnostics for the disease, but said curbs on travel or trade were not necessary.
Chan, whose agency was assailed as too slow in reacting to West Africa's Ebola epidemic that killed more than 10,000 people in the past two years, cited "first and foremost the big concern about microcephaly," the birth defect that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and improperly developed brains.
She noted that it was "strongly suspected but not yet scientifically proven" that Zika causes microcephaly.
"Can you imagine if we do not do all this work now, and wait until the scientific evidence comes out?" Chan told reporters at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. "Then people will say that, 'Why don't you take action because the mosquito is ubiquitous?'"
President Benigno Aquino III has ordered the Department of Health (DOH) to prepare against the possible spread of the mosquito-borne virus to the Philippines.
The DOH has said that the Philippines was still free of the virus.
Meanwhile, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has identified countries with "active Zika virus transmission."
These countries include:
  • Barbados
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, US territory
  • Costa Rica
  • Curacao
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • French Guiana
  • Guadeloupe
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Martinique
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Saint Martin
  • Suriname
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Venezuela
  • American Samoa
  • Samoa
  • Cape Verde
—ALG, GMA News

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