WHO Removes Antigua from Zika Virus List

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Wednesday 17th October, 2018-The World Health Organization’s (WHO) has removed the Zika Virus Classification Scheme for Antigua and Barbuda.

The old Classification Scheme placed Antigua and Barbuda in Category One or an area with new introduction or re-introduction with ongoing transmission of the mosquito borne virus.

In a statement, the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment said the classification was used by national Public Health Agencies to advise travelers that there is a risk of Zika in Antigua and Barbuda and that has negatively impacted the tourism industry, since there were reported hotel cancellations based on the advisory.

Health and Wellness Minister the Honourable Molwyn Joseph along with other Ministers of Health within the region welcomed the news, since they have been advocating for the de-activation of the classification since last year. Last month, the issue was raised to the highest political level when CARICOM heads of government, while in New York at the United Nations General Assembly, brought it to the attention of the WHO’s Director General, according to the statement.

The old classification scheme will be replaced by periodic WHO epidemiologic updates to guide public health programmes and traveler health.

Antigua and Barbuda had its last confirmed case of Zika Virus Disease in November 2016 and there have been no cases detected since then. Active surveillance and vigorous vector control have contributed to the Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment’s success in combating Zika Virus Disease.

Minister Joseph received the news from PAHO, while attending the Third Global Conference on Health and Climate Change in Grenada.