SPANISH Health Minister Alfonso Alonso has urged calm after Catalonian authorities released a report on two confirmed cases of Zika infections in the country.
The mosquito-borne virus, which has now spread to at least 24 countries, has prompted worldwide fears of a global pandemic and left researchers racing to create a vaccine.
Although reports show the virus to be symptomless in 80 per cent of sufferers, pregnant women are thought to be most at risk, as medics have connected the virus to a neurological birth disorder called microcephaly, a condition that causes babies to be born with smaller-than-normal heads.
Speaking on Radio Nacional Espanola (RNE) on January 26, Minister Alonso said the risk of contracting the virus in Spain “is very low”, but issued a warning to pregnant Spanish women with travel plans, urging them to consult medical professionals before departing.
Since coming to the world’s attention in November 2015, some 4,180 cases of microcephaly have been observed in babies born in Brazil while their mother was carrying the virus.
The confirmed cases in Spain were found in two South American women, who had spent time in their homelands over the Christmas period, before being diagnosed on their return. Despite the fact that neither was pregnant, reports claim that they haven’t fully recovered yet.
A growing number of European countries have reported travellers returning from Latin America with Zika infections, including Britain, Denmark, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland and The Netherlands.
Russia’s Health Minister has confirmed that the Zika situation is being closely monitored and President Putin gave a statement to say “mosquitoes cannot fly over the ocean, but infected people can and do” and pledged to “work with transportation companies,” to better identify symptoms of the virus and allow for a timely reaction.