Brazil on Thursday announced the end of its national Zika emergency, AP reported. The disease is characterised by a fever, caused by the Zika virus and transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The virus, scientists believe, is the cause for microcephaly, where babies are born with abnormally small heads.
The Zika virus had held Brazil hostage from 2015 to 2016. The World Health Organisation had already lifted its international emergency over the virus on November 18 last year.
The number of Zika virus cases in Brazil between January and April this year was 7,911, as opposed to 1,70,535 during the same period last year. While eight people died last year, no casualties have been reported in 2017 so far, BBC reported. This abrupt decrease in the number of cases has led to the withdrawal of emergency, the country’s health ministry said. The state of emergency had been declared in November 2015.
“The end of the emergency doesn’t mean the end of surveillance or assistance to affected families,” said Adeilson Cavalcante, the secretary for health surveillance at Brazil’s health ministry. “The ministry and other organisations involved in this area will maintain a policy of fighting Zika, dengue and chikungunya.”
Panic over the quick spread of the virus deepened as Brazil prepared to host the Olympics in 2016. Reports of babies with swollen heads, huge numbers of pregnant women being affected and dissemination of the virus through sexual contact had fuelled international concern. Travel advisories were issued against going to the affected places and reports of Zika fever started pouring in from several other countries. The outbreak also led to a large-scale mosquito eradication campaign in Brazil.