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Governments urged to use caution when reporting on Zika virus

Published:Tuesday | January 26, 2016 | 12:00 AM
A graduate student works on analyzing samples to identify the Zika virus in a laboratory at the Fiocruz institute in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Friday.

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is urging governments in the region to be cautious when reporting on the Zika virus (ZIKV).

In a release, CARPHA said governments should be careful not to overstate the risks of the disease and cause  panic or a lack of public trust.

However, it notes that governments shouldn’t downplay the risks either.

It also urged governments to be balanced in reporting on the virus and avoid politically polarising positions on health matters.

The regional body says, governments should provide good, helpful information about the Zika virus and effective measures to minimise infection through eliminating mosquito breeding sites and measures
to avoid being bitten by a mosquito.

The agency says this will help to avoid confusion, miscommunication, and misunderstanding.

CARPHA also says Caribbean countries have an obligation to reduce the risk of ill health that people might impose on each other within as well as across the region’s borders.

As a result, it says governments must record the number of cases of ZIKV and report it to their populace as well as to CARPHA.

The World Health Organization says it is likely that ZIKV, which has been linked to birth defects in Brazil, could spread to all countries in the Americas with the exception of Canada and Chile.