Zika virus declared global health emergency by WHO

    The World Health Organisation has declared a “public health emergency of international concern” due to the apparent link of the Zika virus to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains.

    The global warning came as health experts predicted Zika virus could be bigger global health threat than Ebola.  World health record shows that in January 2016 there were  28,638 Ebola cases and 11,315 deaths.

    WHO director general, Margaret Chan called Zika an “extraordinary event” that needed a coordinated response.

    “I am now declaring that the recent cluster of microcephaly and other neurological abnormalities reported in Latin America following a similar cluster in French Polynesia in 2014 constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.”

    She said the priorities were to protect pregnant women and their babies from harm and to control the mosquitoes that are spreading the virus.

    Tonga has registered one recent case of Zika virus.

    Media release (MOH NZ)

    The Ministry of Health has extended its Pacific travel advice around the Zika virus to include Tonga as well as Samoa as an area of active transmission.

    Tonga has reported one recent case of Zika virus within Tonga.

    Additionally, the Ministry has received the first Zika notifications for 2016, involving nine travellers who have recently arrived from the South Pacific.

    Four of the travellers have been in Tonga,four in Samoa, one is still to be reported.

    Four of the travellers are female. In two of those cases, the potential for pregnancy has been ruled out. Further tests are underway for the two remaining women.

    Although Zika is generally regarded as a mild illness, it has previously been recognised as having additional complications in a small number of cases.

    One of the travellers, a 47 year old Waikato man, has been admitted to Waikato Hospital with symptoms indicative of Guillain-Barre, a condition which can cause paralysis but from which most patients make a full recovery. The patient is in a stable condition.

    All the other eight individuals have recovered.

    Dr Don Mackie, the Ministry’s Chief Medical Officer, says the notifications should be seen in the context of a large number of travellers in the region.

    In 2014 there were 57 Zika notifications;last year there were nine (provisionally).

    “We will be providing advice to incoming travellers and the Ministry is updating its information for health professionals. There remains robust mosquito surveillance and monitoring at our borders.”

    Health messaging advising travellers on what they should do if they get sick within a month of returning to New Zealand is displayed at all our international airports and available in a health advice card format, Dr Mackie says.

    The health advice cards are also available on Ministry of Health website and are available in Tongan and Samoan.

    We are working with border agencies and airlines to find ways to enhance and increase the visibility of the messaging.

    Acknowledging heightened awareness of Zika’s possible link to foetal microcephaly, Dr Mackie welcomed the overnight statement from the World Health Organization.

    The WHO has announced that it will convene an International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Zika to assess whether the outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

    “The WHO’s international coordination of information and advice is useful to us and to our Pacific partners.

    “Emerging diseases do arise from time to time, and their newness often means that their public prominence may be out of proportion to the actual risk they pose.”

    “However, until more is known, the Ministry of Health continues to recommend that women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant in the near term consider delaying travel to areas with Zika virus present.

    “If travelling in Zika infected areas, women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant should consult with their healthcare provider. All travellers should take appropriate precautions to avoid mosquito bites.”

    Dr Mackie said as an additional precaution, the Ministry was also recommending that women returning from Zika infected areas who might wish to become pregnant should use an effective contraceptive for a period of three weeks after their return.

    Updates on Zika notifications will be now be provided weekly – they are currently published each month on the ESR website. From now on they will be published on Thursday afternoon for the next month.


    1. Kuo talaki fakakolope ʻe he Kautaha Moʻui ʻa Māmaní he ʻahó ni ha fakatokanga fakamāmani lahi ki he tu’unga fakatuʻutāmaki kuo ʻi ai ʻa e vailasi Zika he lolotongá ni.

      Pehē ʻi ha fakamatala kuo tuku mai ʻe he kautaha ni ʻoku ʻi ai ʻa e hohaʻa ki he tuʻunga fakatuʻupakē fakavahaʻapuleʻanga ʻo e mahakí ni he ngali kuo fuʻu mahiki ʻo fakalalahi ange ʻa e fehokotaki ʻa e vailasi Zika mo e fanga kiʻi pēpē ʻe laui afe kuo fanauʻi mai ʻikai ke faʻu lelei honau ʻutó.

      Ko e vailasí ni ʻoku mafola ʻi hono fetuku ʻe he namú pea ʻokú ne uesia lahi ʻakinautolu houʻeiki fefine feitamá.
      Ko e fakatokanga ko ʻeni ʻoku fai ʻe he Kautaha Moʻui ʻa Māmani ʻoku tātaaitaha ke ne fai pehē pea ʻoku toki fai pe ʻo ka aʻu e tuʻunga ʻo ha mahaki ki he tuʻunga mātuʻuʻaki fakatuʻutāmakí.

      Kuo maʻu foki ʻi Tonga ʻa e vailasi Zika ʻe ha tokotaha pea kuo tuku atu ai ʻe Nuʻu Sila ʻene fakatokanga ki hono kakaí ke nau fakaʻehiʻehi ʻoua ʻe folau ki he ngaahi fonua ʻoku mahino kuo aʻu e vailasi fakatuʻutāmakí ni ki aí.

      Kuo ʻi ai foki e vavalo ia ʻa e kau mataotao he tafaʻaki ʻo e moʻuí ʻo pehē ʻe lakasi ʻe he vailasi zika ʻa e mahaki Ebola ʻa ia ʻi he māhina Sānuali pe ʻo e taʻu ní ne aʻu ai e fika ʻo kinautolu maʻu ʻe he Ebola ʻi he hihifo ʻo Afiliká ki he keisi ʻe 28, 638 pea mate ʻa e toko 11, 315.


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