Thanks to Lucie Lecomte for sending the link to this report in The Telegraph: Brazil battles to save Rio Olympics as WHO says it will look again at Zika risk. Excerpt:
When Brazil began its "war" against the Zika virus epidemic, the mosquito was described as enemy number one.
But with less than two months until the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the health crisis has now become a battle of public opinion as authorities scramble to convince the world it is safe to host the Games.
While experts argue over whether the 500,000 expected visitors could spread Zika to new areas, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has bowed to international pressure and said it would reassess the dangers of hosting the Olympics in Rio in August.
“Given the current level of international concern, I have decided to ask members of the Zika Emergency Committee to examine the risks of holding the Olympic Summer Games as currently scheduled,” said Dr Margaret Chan, the WHO director-general, on Friday night, in response to a letter from US senator Jeanne Shaheen.
The WHO had initially said there was no “public health justification” for altering the Games after academics claimed the Olympics posed an “unnecessary risk” for the spread of the virus.
But Amir Attaran, a law and medicine professor at the University of Ottawa, who is among those leading the campaign to postpone or move the Games from Rio, accused the WHO of acting “irresponsibly”.
He is one of the co-authors of an open letter to the WHO signed by 150 international experts, which last week argued the body was rejecting such calls due to its official partnership with the International Olympic Committee.
“The WHO is in a terrible conflict of interest by being partners and advisers to the Olympics, and then having to turn around and assess the risk of the Olympics,” Prof Attaran told the Telegraph.
“This is not how a regulator is supposed to act: there is not supposed to be a partnership or collaborative arrangement between the regulator and the regulated — never.
“A handful of infected humans travelling from Rio to Lagos, Kinshasa, and Mumbai would be at great risk of seeding new epidemics. All it takes is one traveller.”
See also this online-first article in Travel Medicine and Infectious Diseases. It argues, based on a survey of travellers returning to Germany from the World Cup 2014, that there may indeed be some additional health risks associated with travel to Brazil for large sporting events.