To Fight Zika at the Olympics, the World Health Organization Calls for 'Targeted Approach'

WHO Director Margaret Chan called Zika information more worrying.

ByABC News
May 17, 2016, 12:37 PM

— -- Despite concerns about the spread of the Zika virus through the Olympic Games, the World Health Organization (WHO) did not advise that the games be moved from Rio De Janeiro, which has had high rates of Zika infection.

WHO Director Margaret Chan spoke to reporters today, ahead of the World Health Assembly next week.

"You don't want to bring a standstill to the world's movement of people," Chan said today in the press briefing.

Chan said the WHO is working directly with Brazil and indirectly with the International Olympic Committee in Rio on a "targeted approach" to hopefully curb Zika infections, ahead of the August start of the games.

She added that the WHO will, “advise them to put in place all the measures to reduce mosquito density, to make sure that people are provided with the means to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”

Though the WHO has been advising officials on dealing with the Zika virus, she said every athlete would have to make up their own minds about whether or not to attend the games.

"I do share the concern of some athletes and travelers and, as I said, it is very much an individual decision," said Chan. "The role of WHO is to provide them with support so they can make the right decision."

Some Olympic teams have already announced protective measures for athletes including the South Korea's special mosquito-repellent uniforms and the Australian Olympic Committee distributing anti-viral condoms to athletes.

"The more we learn about Zika, the more worried we get about it," Chan continued. She emphasized that the "risk profile" of the virus has changed as medical studies have found a link to the devastating birth defect called microcephaly.

She highlighted that pregnant women are advised to avoid countries with local Zika transmission, which includes Brazil.

"We need to really focus our attention on how to give the right knowledge and right information and services to support women," she said.