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Delaying Rio Games would give false security on Zika: WHO

May 30, 2016 22:21 IST
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IMAGE: The logos of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games are pictured next to a message on a screen that reads "Message about Zika" during a media briefing in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photograph: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters. 

Postponing the Rio Olympics due to fears that the event could speed the spread of the Zika virus would give a "false" sense of security because travelers are constantly going in and out of Brazil, the chair of the WHO's Emergency Committee said.

Extensive travel in a globalised world is the issue, not the Games that start on August 5, said David Heymann, chair of the Health Protection Agency in Britain who also leads the World Health Organization's panel of independent experts on Zika.

"The problem is not the Olympics, the problem is other travel besides the Olympics, if there is a problem," Heymann told Reuters in a telephone interview from London on Monday.

"People go in and out of Brazil all the time for holiday, for business, for whatever. And the Olympics is much less travel, it would be one-time travel. It's actually in the winter months when hopefully transmission (of the virus) is less."

"So it's just a false security to say that you'll postpone the Olympics and postpone the globalisation of this disease."

More than 100 medical experts, academia and scientists called last Friday for the Rio Olympic Games to be postponed or moved because of fears that the event could speed up the spread of the Zika virus around the world.

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