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China, India guard against Zika virus
January 30, 2016, 6:37 am

According to WHO, the virus is known to circulate in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific [Xinhua]

According to WHO, the virus is known to circulate in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific [Xinhua]

China’s top health authority, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has warned citizens to be on guard against the Zika virus.

China is closely cooperating with other countries and the World Health Organization and is briefed with updates to be prepared for any risks, it said.

China’s BRICS partner Brazil is waging war against the virus, with the government deploying more than 200,000 troops to eradicate mosquitoes.

China is unlikely to see an epidemic as the density of mosquitos is low because of the winter weather but faces the risk of travellers bringing in the Zika virus that is spreading in the Americas, the Health Ministry said.

Zika is linked to severe birth defects including babies born with abnormally small heads.

No Zika virus cases have been seen on the Chinese mainland, but the country does face a risk that the “virus could be imported from other countries and regions”, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday.

China is developing prevention and treatment plans that borrow from the experience of other countries, according to the health commission. Its disease control branch has learnt the method to test for Zika virus, and is training health professionals to identify and treat the virus, it said in the statement.

“China has made huge progress in technologies and acts more swiftly in response to any outbreak of infectious disease 12 years after the SARS outbreak,” He Xiong, deputy director of the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Indian government on Friday said it was closely monitoring the spread of Zika virus in several countries and have initiated steps to counter its possible outbreak in the country.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and all necessary steps have been initiated to ensure that India is well prepared in case of any eventuality,” Indian Health and Family Welfare Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda said.

The Indian Health Minister has directed officials to form a technical group to monitor the situation.

No treatment or vaccine is available yet. Brazil and the US are experimenting using genetics to prevent the mosquito itself from carrying the disease.

Asian countries that have dengue and chikungunya are also at risk.

Thailand detected its first Zika case in 2012 and has recorded an average of five cases a year, according to the Ministry of Public Health. Indonesia, Philippines and Taiwan have also reported cases of Zika in previous years.

WHO says the virus could infect as many as four million people in the Americas.

“The situation today is dramatically different. Last year, the virus was detected in the Americas, where it is now spreading explosively. As of today, cases have been reported in 23 countries and territories in the region,” Margaret Chan, director general of the WHO said on Thursday. “The level of alarm is extremely high.”

What is the Zika virus? (Short answers to the spread of the mosquito-borne pathogen)

 

TBP and Agencies

 

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