CTV News reports: The World Health Organization has once again issued a list of ways to avoid Zika virus while travelling to Rio de Janeiro, after a Canadian professor launched a campaign calling for the Summer Olympic Games to be relocated from Brazil.
Amir Attaran, a law professor and health policy expert at the University of Ottawa, published an explosive commentary in Harvard Public Health Review earlier this week, stating that the Games’ events should be divided up among cities like London, Beijing, Athens and Sydney.
Attaran writes that an estimated half-million visitors going to the centre of the Zika crisis will certainly mean avoidable cases of microcephaly – babies born with malformed brains – in other countries.
In this Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016 photo, a health workers stands in the Sambadrome spraying insecticide to combat the Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits the Zika virus in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP / Leo Correa)
He points out there have been an estimated 7,000 cases of microcephaly in Brazil already, and that the incidence of the disease is higher in Rio than anywhere else in the country.
Although Zika is most commonly transmitted to humans by a species of mosquitoes that do not exist in Canada, there has been at least one sexually-transmitted case here.
“I love the Olympics. I’m an athlete. My family is Brazilian,” Attaran told CTV News on Thursday. “I’m saying this because I don’t want to see a global pandemic of children born with half brains.”
“I’m putting forward a position that is widely held by the public health community,” Attaran added.
However, International Olympic Committee medical director Dr. Richard Budgett told The Associated Press Wednesday that the Olympics will go ahead as planned, under advice from the WHO.
Dr. Attaran writes;
Simply put, Zika infection is more dangerous, and Brazil’s outbreak more extensive, than scientists reckoned a short time ago. Which leads to a bitter truth: the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games must be postponed, moved, or both, as a precautionary concession. There are five reasons.