Brazilian official: Risk of catching Zika during Olympics is ‘almost zero’

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The Sambadrome is fumigated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in an effort to stop the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s new health minister stepped up the offensive to convince tourists and athletes that the risk of catching the Zika virus during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro is “almost zero.”

“We are here to put at ease the minds of all residents and tourists coming to the games,” Ricardo Barros said at a news conference Friday.

He cited a study by Cambridge University that concluded there was only a very low chance that any of the expected 500,000 foreign tourists would get the virus.

The Sambadrome is fumigated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in an effort to stop the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

The Sambadrome is fumigated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in an effort to stop the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

The Zika virus was detected in Brazil last year and has since caused a huge surge in birth defects.

Last month, 150 scientists and doctors posted an open letter arguing that the 2016 Summer Games should be postponed or moved.

When asked Friday whether there is a risk that the World Health Organization could end up recommending that the Games be postponed during its meeting next week, Barros said, “We don’t consider the hypotheses of postponing the games. There is no scientific basis that recommends that kind of decision.”

A handful of athletes have expressed concern over the virus. Some have even pulled out of the competition.

British long jumper Greg Rutherford announced that he has frozen a sperm sample, also over Zika concern.

But on Friday, Barros noted that the Summer Games will be held in Brazil’s winter, when the Aedes Aegypti mosquito that transmits the disease tends to die off.

He said the latest stats show that the number of Zika cases has fallen 87% in Brazil since the peak in February and suggested that in August, tourists would face a bigger threat in Caribbean islands, where the virus is also present and it will be the hot, muggy summer season.

The Sambadrome is fumigated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in an effort to stop the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

The Sambadrome is fumigated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in an effort to stop the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

Since the virus was first detected in the country, the Brazilian Health Ministry has confirmed 1,489 cases of Zika-related microcephaly, a rare birth defect in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and other neurological problems. It is still investigating more than 3,000 suspected cases.

The WHO advises that pregnant women should avoid areas with Zika and says people returning from areas with Zika should adopt safe sex practices for at least eight weeks upon return.

Though there appears to be disagreement within medicine on what to do, the WHO has downplayed the risks of the Rio Olympics sparking a global epidemic.

“Cancelling or changing the location of the 2016 Olympics will not significantly alter the international spread of Zika virus,” the WHO said in a statement. “Brazil is one of almost 60 countries and territories which to-date report continuing transmission of Zika by mosquitoes. People continue to travel between these countries and territories for a variety of reasons. The best way to reduce risk of disease is to follow public health travel advice.”

4 comments

  • anonimo

    Before imply with zika it’s a scam, but all work on the Olympics are almost ready and doubted that Dima would suffer impeachment and political climate in Brazil is very well now without dilma. world cup in rio de janeiro was a complete success and securely public. rare or know anyone ever heard of someone with zika in Rio de Janeiro.
     Olympic Games will be held in the winter and the mosquitoes does not play and the rio de janeiro is far from the epicenter Which is northeast of Brazil. It is over 2000 kilometers away. Olympic Games of Rio de Janeiro is the cheapest of all three last editions and the budget stipulated that Followed strictly. Rio2016 will not be 100%, but beautiful, the happened in the World Cup.
     because of dilma impeachment, in 2016 exports from Brazil had the highest Increase since 2011, dollar falls, stock market Increased by 29% with impeachment, public debt Decreased 3% April and the entrepreneurs say They will return to invest and risk analysts in the economy reduced expectation of recession in Brazil 4% to 3.4%

  • anonimo

    zika is farce .. zika with microcephaly only finds only place in Pernambuco state in northeastern Brazil and the region in other states of Brazil is not is almost zero. test only met zika only 16 babies over 4000 cases. in colombia there more cases of zika than in Brazil are more 5000 and has zero cases zika in babies with microcephaly. summary zika is fraud.this story I think you should be careful that nothing is happening in Brazil. Beijing games in 2008, russia sochi, media always with interest

  • Kevin Bond (@Cancerkiller543)

    Relax! – Zika virus is not a problem at all! – Everybody at the Olympics can have safe sex (even if bitten by hundreds of mosquitoes, or his/her partner is a Zika virus carrier) and the Brazilian babies will be born absolutely safe and normal, if everyone in Brazil does my discovery (just an exercise for a minute a day) – My WVCD – The Weapon of Virus and Cancer Destruction, that kills the Zika and any other viruses and pathogens the moment they touch us – I can rid the whole world of any diseases, known on Earth for millions of years in just a few days and make everybody Immortal, for Infinite Health = Immortality – If the world pays me 5 billion EURO (or BP).

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