WHO chief Margaret Chan said the link between the Zika virus and microcephaly was “strongly suspected but not yet scientifically proven,” the Guardian reports.
“After a review of the evidence, the committee advised that the clusters of microcephaly and other neurological complications constitute an extraordinary event and public health threat to other parts of the world,” Chan said.
She said an international coordinated response was necessary, although there was no reason to introduce restrictions on travel or trade. Mosquito control was the top concern, she said.
The designation was recommended by a committee of independent experts, and should help fast-track international action and research priorities.
Chan advised pregnant women to take measures to protect themselves.
“If you can delay travel and it does not affect your other family commitments, it is something they can consider,” she said. “If they need to travel, they can get advice from their physician and take personal protective measures, like wearing long sleeves and shirts and pants and use mosquito repellent.”
It should be recalled that on January 26, the U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday called for the rapid development of tests, vaccines and treatments to fight the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus.