Swiss Airlines Won’t Require Flight Crew Members to Fly to Brazil, as Zika Spreads in South America

PARIS (AP) -

Swiss International Air Lines said female flight attendants and pilots won’t be required to fly to Sao Paulo, Brazil, if they don’t want to because of the Zika virus outbreak.

The Swiss carrier, a subsidiary of Germany’s Lufthansa, said in a statement that it’s advising any pilot or member of cabin crew who may be expecting to speak with their doctor before flying to Brazil.

Tuesday’s statement said the company will “until further notice” take into account requests of such employees who ask not to be deployed to Brazil. Sao Paulo is the airline’s main destination in South America.

The World Health Organization on Monday declared a global emergency over the explosive spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects in the Americas.

Meanwhile, Nicaragua has confirmed its first two cases of the Zika virus in expectant women.

Government spokeswoman Rosario Murillo says four women have tested positive for the virus in the Central American nation, including two who are three and one-half and four months expectant. That brings the country’s total known cases of Zika to 15.

Murillo says the country is monitoring World Health Organization recommendations and has directed local health authorities to pay close attention to expectant women who may have contracted Zika.

She noted Tuesday that not all expectant women infected with Zika give birth to babies with the rare condition known as microcephaly.

Also Tuesday, Chile reported its first case of a person infected with the Zika virus.

The Chilean Infectology Society confirmed the case Tuesday without providing any details about the patient. It only said that the virus had been transmitted while the person was abroad and that it was first recorded several weeks ago.

There are no cases of local infection so far. Some Chilean travelers have been suspected of carrying the virus but this is Chile’s first confirmed case of someone infected abroad.

The World Health Organization has said Zika is likely to spread to every country in the Americas where the mosquito that carries it can be found except for Canada and continental Chile.