How to stop the Zika virus from spreading in Europe
The number of confirmed cases of Zika in Europe has nearly tripled, with the latest data showing the number of new infections rising by more than 3,000 per day.
This follows an increase in the number reported in France and Germany, which both reported a record number of cases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is now expecting an even higher number of deaths due to the virus, with its chief epidemiologist predicting that as many as 6.6 million people could die worldwide by the end of March.
In the meantime, Europe is coping with the effects of the virus by turning to condoms and re-implanting babies.
But this week, Europe’s biggest health charity warned that while the continent was still recovering from the virus’ peak, it was facing the possibility of a “dramatic rise in new infections”.
In Europe, it said, “there are signs that some countries may experience a substantial rise in cases”.
That is especially worrying for those countries with large populations and a long history of transmission.
The first cases of the Zika strain were reported in the northern Brazilian state of Bahia on 28 January, prompting widespread alarm and concern about the spread of the disease.
But it was later revealed that the strain had been isolated from an infected mosquito in Brazil, and that the first cases had been detected in neighbouring Colombia.
The WHO said on Friday that Brazil was now the first country to confirm its first confirmed case of Zika virus infection, while the WHO confirmed the second case in the US state of Georgia on Wednesday.
The US state health department said the Georgia case was linked to the Zika outbreak in the city of Atlanta.
WHO chief Margaret Chan said on Monday that although the outbreak in Brazil is now contained, the situation was not as stable as in other countries.
“We have a long way to go,” she said, before urging all countries to “immediately” stop any transmission of the strain.
“The situation in the Americas is different.
We do not have a single case in Brazil.
There is no indication that there are any new cases.”
WHO said that if new cases were to emerge in the region, it would be crucial that countries take measures to halt the spread.
“These measures can include re-examining all travel plans and using condoms and the use of new technologies to reduce the spread and avoid further transmission,” Chan said.
“All countries should do everything possible to ensure that they continue to prevent the spread, including by implementing measures such as limiting travel and limiting social contacts and sexual activity.”
However, in the meantime the US and other countries have already seen a surge in cases, with reports suggesting that cases have risen by up to 50 per cent since the start of the outbreak.
US President Donald Trump has made his support for the controversial travel ban a key focus of his first 100 days in office, and has criticised the WHO for the delay in releasing new figures on the spread as the virus continues to spread.
He has said he is looking into the possibility that the travel ban could be lifted.