The central government on Friday decided to establish a technical group to monitor the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which the World Health Organization said is "spreading explosively". Health Minister JP Nadda chaired a high-level meeting to take stock of the situation, after the WHO called for a meeting on February 1 to determine if the outbreak qualifies as an international public health emergency. Nadda said that India is closely monitoring the situation and taking all the necessary steps to ensure the country is well prepared, reported PTI.

While the WHO said that three to four million cases can be expected in the Americas, without mentioning a time period, it also warned that the virus could affect countries like India. The Zika virus is carried by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito and is blamed for a surge in birth defects in Latin Americahought to cause brain damage in babies. This mosquito also carries the viruses that cause dengue and chikungunya, which are of great public health concern in tropical countries such as India.

Brazil has registered nearly 4,000 cases of babies suffering from microcephaly, a serious condition linked to Zika that can cause lifelong developmental problems. The spread of the virus has prompted governments across the world to advise pregnant women against going to the areas where it has been detected, reported The Guardian. There is no vaccine or cure for Zika.