On Friday, the World Health Organization announced the lifting of a nine-month emergency declaration for the Zika virus, as reported by ABC News. While this latest news may help ease some people’s fears about the mosquito-borne threat, the United Nations health agency stressed that it remains a concern, and they are simply switching their efforts to a long-term battle.
Since November 2015, Zika has been frightening the public since the WHO announced how the virus was responsible for a surge in birth defects, which have been reported in 30 countries. WHO has cataloged 2,100 cases in Brazil alone. There have also been reports that Zika affects adults too. But Dr. David Heymann, head of a WHO emergency committee on Zika, said the immediate threat of a Zika pandemic has subsided while still remaining a “significant and enduring” threat.
Some experts worry that the Zika virus being downgraded could further impact the research and aid process, which hasn’t been as fast as some would have hoped for. Bureaucracy has been a roadblock in the U.S. too, but Georgetown University international health law expert Dr. Lawrece Gostin told Fox News how the response to the virus has been slow everywhere:
“The international response to Zika has been lethargic, and if WHO called off the global emergency it would provide reason for governments and donors to pull back even more. That would be a recipe for the very lack of preparedness the world has seen time and again with infectious diseases.”
WHO has not announced the details of their future plans for combating Zika, but it’s sure to be a lengthy ordeal.