UNICEF Seeks $9 Million to Fight Zika

PARIS (AP) -
A health ministry worker fumigates for Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, vector for the spread of the Zika virus, in Panama City on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)
A health ministry worker fumigates for Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, vector for the spread of the Zika virus, in Panama City on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

UNICEF is asking for $9 million for its programs in the Americas to curb the spread of Zika virus and lessen its impact on babies and their families across the region.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the U.N. children’s agency said it would focus on educating communities in Brazil on how to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and how to wipe out their breeding sites. Dr. Heather Papowitz, UNICEF’s senior adviser for health emergencies, commented: “Although there is still no conclusive evidence of the causal link between microcephaly and the Zika virus, there is enough concern to warrant immediate action.”

Meanwhile, the Middle East’s biggest airline is offering refunds to passengers booked on flights to countries affected by the Zika virus.

Emirates said in a statement Tuesday there is “no impact on operations” for flights from its Dubai base to three South American cities: Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in Brazil, and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

It is nonetheless offering passengers the chance to get refunds or rebook to alternative destinations in the Americas, saying “special provisions have been put in place for customers advised to avoid the affected regions based on CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidance.” The offer covers tickets issued by Jan. 29 for travel through April 30.

Fast-growing Emirates has emerged as a major long-haul carrier, and is the biggest operator of the Boeing 777 and the double-decker Airbus A380.

Also Tuesday, officials in Spain said laboratory tests have confirmed a fourth case of the Zika virus in that country.

The southeastern regional government of Murcia said Tuesday that tests carried out by the National Microbiology Center confirmed the case of a man treated two weeks ago at a regional hospital after visiting an unspecified country affected by the virus.

The man, who was not identified but was said to be middle-aged and a Spanish resident, has been given the all clear after been treated for the virus and to avoid contagion.

The other three cases in Spain also involved people who had traveled to affected regions in Latin America.

WHO is recommending that visitors and residents in affected areas, especially expectant women, take measures to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes that transmit the virus.