komarac, zika.jpg
Photograph: Photo by Day Donaldson, used under CC BY

UN-appointed experts discussed Tuesday whether the international strategy to fight the Zika virus needs to be adjusted, following a demand by 200 scientists to delay or relocate the August Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The scientists wrote to the World Health Organization (WHO) in May, arguing that it would be unethical to risk the further spread of Zika to other regions through visitors to the summer games in Brazil, which is at the centre of the outbreak.

The international experts of WHO's Zika Emergency Committee discussed in a teleconference whether the outbreak still constitutes a global health emergency, and will decide if additional recommendations are needed, WHO said.

They were set to brief on the outcome at 8 pm (1800 GMT).

The experts would take into account the open letter, as well as infection trends and countermeasures taken by countries in Latin America and other affected regions, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told dpa.

The number of Zika infections in Brazil has dropped in recent months, the country's health minister said Friday.

One of the authors of the letter, Canadian law and public health scholar Amir Attaran, was initially asked to take part in Tuesday's meeting, but was later disinvited because he did not sign a confidentiality agreement on the deliberations, Lindmeier said.

Zika, which is spread by mosquitoes and through sexual contact, causes flu symptoms in most cases, but it can also lead to serious neurological disorders in unborn babies and adults.

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