Gov’t takes collective action against Zika

Gov’t takes collective action against Zika

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Cassiana Severino holds her daughter Melisa Vitoria, born with microcephaly at the IMIP hospital in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. The Zika virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is well-adapted to humans, thrives in people's homes and can breed in even a bottle cap's-worth of stagnant water. The Zika virus is suspected to cause microcephaly in newborn children. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Cassiana Severino holds her daughter Melisa Vitoria, born with microcephaly at the IMIP hospital in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. The Zika virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is well-adapted to humans, thrives in people’s homes and can breed in even a bottle cap’s-worth of stagnant water. The Zika virus is suspected to cause microcephaly in newborn children. (AP/Felipe Dana=NEWSIS)

The World Health Organization declared “public health emergencies of international concern” (PHEIC) over the Zika virus outbreak on Feb. 2. The Zika virus is known to be linked with microcephaly among newborn babies, and has been spreading to North America, Europe and Asia after its outbreak in South America. In line with the WHO’s action, the Korean government has decided to actively respond to the virus by setting up collective countermeasures among the various government ministries.

The ministries held a meeting on Feb. 2 to assess its crisis management capabilities and to set up countermeasures against the Zika virus. Minister of Health and Welfare Chung Chin-youb said at the meeting that the government will “provide manuals on preventive measures in case those who are infected with the virus come to Korea, and take more strict prevention measures against mosquito-bites, especially when mosquitoes are both active and inactive, as well.”

A day earlier, the Ministry of Public Safety and Security held a meeting with related organizations to make prevention plans, to review the cooperation structure among government bodies, and to review prevention measures planned by each of them in order to jointly respond to any cases of the Zika virus.

In line with all of this, the Korean government’s Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has also announced its Zika virus prevention guidelines targeting citizens, pregnant women and medical organizations. According to the guidelines, it’s advised to wear long-sleeved clothes in bright colors to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes. Those who visit regions where cases of the Zika infection have already occurred need to use insect repellent. The CDC is also advising not to have blood transfusions for at least one month after coming back from the region.

If a pregnant woman must visit a Zika outbreak region and then comes back home, she needs to carefully check her health, to see whether she shows any symptoms related to the virus, such as a fever, rash or inflamed eyes, within two weeks after her arrival back home. If she does, she needs to report her visit overseas to a doctor and have her fetus checked regularly.

If you believe you may be at risk of the Zika virus, it’s required that you report to the CDC’s Korean call center (Tel: 109) or to a medical center near your residence.

By Yoon Sojung
Korea.net Staff Writer
Photos: Yonhap News
arete@korea.kr