Medical authorities expect the sharp drop in zika cases in Rio to continue in the coming months (Photo: Rio 2016/Gabriel Nascimento)
By NAN Sports Contributor
News Americas, RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, Fri. June 10, 2016: With 56 days to go from today, June 10, 2016 to Rio 2016, organizers and medical authorities are moving to ensure the Summer Olympics is not ruined by fears of the Zika virus.
This week, they held a joint press conference to insist that the number of Zika cases in Rio de Janeiro have dropped sharply in recent weeks and will fall to almost nothing during the dry winter months of the Olympic and Paralympic Games – August 5-21, 2016.
“Zika numbers started declining rapidly in April,” Rio 2016 chief medical officer João Grangeiro told journalists at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro. “The cooler and drier weather will reduce mosquito populations, lowering the risk of mosquito-borne infections.”
Citing the results of computer modeling published by the Cambridge University Press in April, Games organizers estimated that only one or two tourists may contract Zika during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
They also claim that no cases of Zika were reported in the 44 test events for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, in which about 7,000 athletes, 8,000 volunteers and 2,000 staff participated.
Authorities, however, said they are not relying only on dry winter weather to reduce the incidence of Zika. The same preventative measures will be implemented at Olympic venues and infrastructure as in the rainy months. Each venue already undergoes daily inspections to make sure there are no pools of stagnant water where the mosquito tends to breed. At larger sites and in the Olympic Village, these checks are carried out several times per day.
“Our mission is to make sure that all athletes find Rio de Janeiro to be a safe city for competing and celebrating,” Rio 2016 executive communications director Mario Andrada told journalists.
The Zika virus circulates in almost 60 countries around the world. It is transmitted by the aedes aegypti mosquito, which also carries the virus that causes dengue fever.
OLYMPIC TRAVEL ADVICE
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) is advising athletes and visitors to Rio de Janeiro, and other areas where the Zika virus is circulating, to protect themselves from mosquito bites by using insect repellents and by wearing clothing – preferably light-colored – that covers as much of the body as possible.
Because the virus can be sexually transmitted, visitors should practice safer sex or abstain from sex during their stay and for at least eight weeks after their return. Pregnant women are advised not to travel to areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission, including Rio de Janeiro.