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Bernard Schwartlander:WHO Representative in China Statement on Zika Virus

WHO Representative in China statement on Zika virus
10 February, 2016 Beijing
By Bernard Schwartlander, WHO representative in China

The first case of Zika virus in mainland China has been confirmed. The case was confirmed and WHO was notified on 9 February.

The patient is a 34 year-old man from Jiangxi province who had recently travelled to South America. He is currently being cared for in isolation in hospital in Ganzhou. His condition has significantly improved since he was admitted to hospital on February 6.

With the volume of travel between China and South America, imported cases of Zika virus in China are to be expected.

Chinese health authorities are well prepared to respond to this and any further imported cases. The current risk of a widespread outbreak of Zika virus in China is low - given that the virus is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, and winter is not the breeding time for mosquitos.

The mosquito which transmits Zika is the same mosquito which carries dengue and other diseases. China has achieved great success in controlling mosquito populations in dengue-prone areas such as Guangdong, and is ready to build on that success in the context of Zika.

It is important to note that the WHO Director-General's declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHIEC) was declared in response to a cluster of microcephaly (a rare form of birth defect) cases which appear to be associated with the Zika virus, not to the Zika virus per se. In most cases, Zika virus disease is mild and patients with the disease recover quickly and completely.

WHO will continue to communicate closely with the Chinese health authorities to monitor the situation and assess the implications of the PHIEC for China.


About the World Health Organization

WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.

For more information please contact:

Ms WU Linlin
WHO China Office
E-mail: wul@who.int
Office Tel: +86 10 6532 7191

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