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Brazil Government Welcomes WHO Zika Alert
   2016-02-02 19:54:12    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Mao Yaqing

Gabrielly Santana da Paz holds her child who suffered microcephaly while waiting for examination at the Oswaldo Cruz Hospital, in Cabo de Santo Agostinho, 35 km from Recife, capital of Pernambuco in northeastern Brazil, on Feb. 1, 2016. [Photo: Xinhua]

Brazilian government officials welcomed the World Health Organisation's alert on the Zika virus Monday, officially making it an international emergency.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan has called for international efforts to reduce the impact of the epidemic.

"A coordinated international response is needed to minimize the threat in affected countries and reduce the risk of further international spread. Members of the committee agree that the situation meets the conditions for a public health emergency of international concern."

Government chief of staff Jaques Wagner said President Dilma Rousseff viewed the announcement as a positive step.

Wagner also made it clear that the renewed push against Zika is not because of the Olympics, but rather a need to solve a serious public health issue.

"The Olympics are there because they were already planned. Independently from the Olympics we would have been doing the same efforts in as soon as we had identified the relationship between Zika and microcephaly. Now I believe that until then our efforts will have results and we will have a smaller degree of infestations."

Brazil's Health Ministry said in a statement that it will make it mandatory for local governments to report cases of the Zika virus.

Currently, mandatory reporting is not in place.

No vaccine or treatment currently exists for the virus.

Brazilian officials believe Zika infections may be linked to a high number of cases of microcephaly, a rare birth defect that causes abnormally small head and brain damage in infants.

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