'Rio Olympics 2016:' Health Experts Urge WHO To Consider Rio Olympics Postponement Amid 'Zika' Outbreak


One hundred and fifty health experts, including ex-science adviser to the White House Dr. Philip Rubin appealed in an open letter to the UN health agency, World Health Organization (WHO), calling the postponement or relocation of 'Rio Olympics 2016' for the sake of public health.

Citing recent scientific findings, the letter posted at "Rio Olympics Later" reads that the "Zika" virus may affect severe birth defects, particularly babies born with abnormally small heads. For adults, Zika causes neurological harms that can be fatal or cause short-term paralysis. According to the authors the Zika infections in Rio have gone up instead of a decline despite augmented efforts to wipe out the Zika-spreading mosquitoes.

Previously, various public health academics warned that the influx of hundreds of thousands of people heading to the Rio Olympics 2016 in Aug. 5-21 games will inevitably lead to the labor of more brain-damaged babies and expedite the global spread of Zika Virus, the Associated Press reported.

Zika outbreak was declares as a global emergency in February by the WHO. Meanwhile, WHO Assessment  said this week that there is no overall decline in the outbreak. The UN Healh Agency has already advised pregnant women to refrain in going to Rio Olympics 2016 and advised other travelers to avoid overcrowded and slam parts of the city. It also predicted the Zika risk in August would fall due to the South American winter where fewer mosquitoes are expected survive. Additionally, Zika virus can also be acquired by means of sex in some cases. Pregnant women are recommended to abstain or follow safe sex with partners coming from Zika-affected areas.

Amongst the signatories of the letter are experts from about two dozen countries in areas including bioethics, pediatrics and public health. The letter also pointed out a potential conflict of interest, stressing on the decades-long partnership between WHO and the International Olympic Committee.

Recently, concerns over Zika have incited USA Swimming to relocate its pre-Olympic training camp Atlanta from Puerto Rico while Major League Baseball also cancels a series of games that were going to be held in San Juan, AP added.

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