Health Sec’y announced measures to combat the virus
REUTERS/THE NEWS MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s Health Secretariat on Wednesday sought to play down any impact on its tourism industry from the mosquito-borne Zika virus, emphasizing the disease was under control and far from its main tourist centers. The infection presents no risk for tourist activity, Alberto Díaz, a senior official from the health ministry, told tour operators during a meeting in Cancun, however conceding it was “inevitable” the virus would spread. Health Secretary Mercedes Juan López announced strategic measures to increase and strengthen surveillance in order to detect and prevent further cases of infection, following instructions from President Enrique Peña Nieto. Mexico has so far confirmed 34 cases of the Zika virus, up from 18 last week. It has not yet detected a case in a pregnant woman. The virus has been tied to brain defects in thousands of babies in Brazil, raising alarms as it spreads throughout the continent. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the Zika virus could eventually affect as many as 4 million people in the region. Díaz, assistant director general of the government’s epidemiological institute, said the infection has led to few complications so far, and the Mexican government was following all WHO guidelines. There is no vaccine or treatment for the disease, which causes mild fever, rash and red eyes — though about four-fifths of those infected have no symptoms. Mexico is one of 26 Latin American and Caribbean countries and territories with a Zika virus-related travel alert from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.