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Olympics safety from Zika is priority says IOC's Bach

Thursday, January 28, 2016 - 01:01

President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach says they are working closely with the World Health Organisation to protect Rio 2016 Games athletes and spectators from the Zika virus.

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= includes white flash = SHOWS: ATHENS, GREECE (JANUARY 28, 2016) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 1. (SOUNDBITE) (English) INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE PRESIDENT THOMAS BACH SAYING: "The virus issue, we are in close contact with the World Health Organisation, as well as with the organising committee and the Brazilian authorities. You may know that (Brazilian) president (Dilma) Rousseff has called for a summit. There is a South-American summit in this respect that now the health ministers of the region are meeting to address this issue. We also have to see that the Olympic Games will take place during the Brazilian Winter so this time we will also have the different climatic conditions from now when we are in the middle of the Brazilian Summer" STORY: The President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Thursday (January 28) that they are working closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to protect athletes and spectators against the Zika virus at this year's Rio Games. The outbreak of Zika, which has been linked to thousands of cases of severe birth defects in Brazil, is spreading "explosively" and could affect between three and four million people, the WHO said on Thursday. Brazil has reported 3,893 suspected cases of microcephaly, at least 30 times more than in any year since 2010 and equivalent to one-to-two percent of all newborns in the state of Pernambuco, one of the worst-hit areas. Speaking at a news conference in Greece, IOC President Thomas Bach said: "The virus issue, we are in close contact with the World Health Organization, as well as with the organizing committee and the Brazilian authorities. You may know that (Brazilian) president (Dilma) Rousseff has called for a summit. There is a South-American summit in this respect that now the health ministers of the region are meeting to address this issue. We also have to see that the Olympic Games will take place during the Brazilian Winter so this time we will also have the different climatic conditions from now when we are in the middle of the Brazilian Summer." Bach told journalists that the IOC will be in contact with all its members in the coming days to form a strategy on how best to address the Zika threat and guarantee that all athletes participating in the Rio 2016 Games will be at zero risk of contamination. "Today, the latest tomorrow, there will be a communication from the International Olympic Committee to all the National Olympic Committees how this can be addressed and how the National Olympic Committees then in turn can inform all their athletes to show that we will do everything to ensure the health of the athletes and all the visitors," said Bach. There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, which is related to dengue and chikungunya and causes mild fever, a rash and red eyes. However, an estimated 80 percent of people infected have no symptoms, making it difficult for pregnant women to know whether they have the virus. The WHO will convene an emergency committee meeting on Monday (February 1) to help determine the level of the international response to the outbreak.

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Olympics safety from Zika is priority says IOC's Bach

Thursday, January 28, 2016 - 01:01