WHO rejects scientists, doctors calls to shift Olympics over Zika fears
The UN health body outlined its stance in a statement late on Friday after a group of 150 international doctors, scientists and researchers sent an open letter to it, outlining fears that the arrival of half a million tourists for the Games could cause the virus to spread more rapidly around the world.
Zika can cause birth defects, including a devastating syndrome known as microcephaly in which babies are born with unusually small heads and brains.
Nearly 1,300 babies have been born in Brazil with the irreversible defect since the mosquito-borne Zika began circulating there last year.
Addressed to the world health body, the letter by scientists and doctors said that pressing on with the Games in Rio, the second-most affected city in Brazil, would be "irresponsible" and "unethical".
"An unnecessary risk is posed when 500,000 foreign tourists from all countries attend the Games, potentially acquire that strain, and return home to places where it can become endemic," said experts from the United States, Britain, Canada, Norway, the Philippines, Japan, Brazil, South Africa, Turkey, and Lebanon, among other countries.
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