Brazil vows worry-free Olympics despite Zika

Updated: 2016-02-15 03:25



(China Daily Latin America)

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Brazil vows worry-free Olympics despite Zika

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff takes part in a national campaign against the Aedes aegypti mosquito in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Saturday. ROBERTO STUCKERT / AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Saturday launched a door-to-door "war" on mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus, vowing they will not jeopardize the Rio Olympics in August.

"The situation does not compromise the Olympics," Rousseff said as she joined soldiers in a nationwide campaign to teach citizens how to fight the outbreak.

"We are confident that by the time the Olympics begin we will have considerable success in exterminating the mosquito" known as Aedes aegypti that transmits the virus, she said.

Brazil has been most affected by the outbreak that has spread rapidly through Latin America and the Caribbean, with 1.5 million people in the country infected since early 2015.

While it causes only mild flu-like symptoms in most people, Zika is strongly suspected of a rapid rise in the number of children born with microcephaly — abnormally small heads and brains — to mothers infected during pregnancy.

Rousseff spoke to reporters after visiting houses in Rio de Janeiro as part of the national anti-Zika campaign.

On Saturday, about 220,000 soldiers fanned out across the country, part of an operation aiming to knock on three million doors and distribute informational leaflets.

Rousseff urged all Brazilians to come together. "The government is taking the lead but that alone won't win the war," she said. "We need to get everyone involved."

Visiting homes, restaurants and shops, military personnel handed out leaflets with the slogan "a mosquito is not stronger than an entire country".

They advised residents to keep water tanks tightly covered, turn open bottles upside down and store tires in places where they won't collect water.

Densely populated areas One of Brazil's top health officials, meanwhile, warned that Zika was likely to spread to densely populated areas — including Rio and Sao Paulo.

"This is the great fear of the immediate future — that densely populated states will experience an intense outbreak of the virus that cannot be controlled," said Claudio Maierovitch, a senior official at the health ministry.