Official Brazil Zika Advisory
New reports about Zika Virus emerge daily, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has published seemingly contradictory statements on the subject. To date, cases of the virus, which was virtually unknown to the general public until very recently, have been documented in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guyana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Paraguay, St. Martin, Suriname and Venezuela.
Here at VIP, we take our clients’ health seriously, so we want to keep you up-to-date on the most recent occurrences on the virus. We received an official advisory message from the Brazilian Tourism Board, Embratur, earlier today:
Embratur informs tourism professionals there are no travel or trade restrictions to countries, regions and/or territories connected with the transmission of the Zika virus. The guidance is in accordance with the WHO and World Tourism Organization (WTO). It is suggested people adopt precautionary measures when planning to travel to areas where there is transmission of the virus.
In Brazil, it is recommended Brazilian and foreign tourists take simple steps to prevent contact with the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the transmitter of Zika, as well as dengue and chikungunya fever. Steps include: Using repellents to protect against mosquito exposure; Keeping doors and windows screened or closed; And, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants. It also is important to pay attention to possible insect breeding around residential spaces.
Regardless of the reason or destination, pregnant women and all women of childbearing age should consult their doctor before traveling. For this segment, it it recommended to only use drugs prescribed by health professionals, have a qualified prenatal examination and report any changes during pregnancy.
The Brazilian federal government has mobilized 19 agencies to handle this situation. States and municipalities also are participating. A National Office for Coordination and Control of Combat Against Microcephaly was created to manage actions across the country and strengthen the fight against the Aedes aegypti. The budget for this initiative has been reinforced and will reach BRL$ 1.87 billion (nearly US$ 500 million). Part of this budget already has been used to buy larvacides, pesticides, diagnostic kits and other strategic items.
Brazil has more than 300,000 agents working directly to eliminate mosquito outbreaks. On February 13, 220,000 soldiers will take part in a major action. In order to ensure people have reliable and updated information, printed materials with be distributed nationwide. These items include educational booklets, posters, brochures and comic books that contain guidelines on combating mosquitos, symptoms of disease and specific information for pregnant women and women of childbearing age. Social media networks and digital platforms also are being used for this purpose.
The government also is organizing community task forces in the areas with the highest record of disease to mobilize local government, community and religious leaders, the media and the public against the Aedes aegypti. The government also is mobilizing special units to perform residential inspections and implement additional safety measures.
As always, we are here to assist our clients during this potentially challenging time. Please feel free to contact us with any questions related to travel plans and Zika. And, to get a wider perspective on the topic, check out this Recommend Magazine where our fearless leader Mike Eiseman discusses how the virus may affect the travel industry.