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Flash – WHO says Zika risk lay in the Pacific before Meghan visit

WELLINGTON (AFP) –As Prince Harry and his anticipated wife Meghan are preparing for Fiji and Tonga tours next week, the…


As Prince Harry and his anticipated wife Meghan are preparing for Fiji and Tonga tours next week, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that the risk of contracting Zika virus in the Pacific is low.

The British kings, currently in Australia, arranged their journey before Meghans pregnancy was known, fearing that her and her unborn children could be vulnerable to the islandings, where Zika was officially listed as a risk.

But WHO said The latest case of mosquito-borne viruses in Fiji was 2017 and no cases had been recorded in Tonga since 2016.

“At present, there are really no signs of a Zika virus outbreak in Fiji,” Dr Angela Merianos , a Suva-based infectious disease specialist with WHO, told AFP.

She said the situation was similar in Tonga and added: “Overall, the risk is low and there are many things you can do to reduce the risk even further.”

Merianos said all travel teachers should follow “common sense “Precautions to Avoid Mosquitoes, which may carry dengue fever and chikungunya, like Zika.

These include wearing insecticides, using mosquito nets and staying indoors where possible.

“Zika is a particular concern for pregnant women and women of reproductive age,” she said.

“People should wear protective clothing, preferably light-colored, covering most of the body.”

Kensington Palace said that after Megan’s pregnancy, it was publicly announced that the kings had decided to continue the journey after seeking medical advice to the Zika virus.

Zika usually causes mild fever lasting less than a week, but if a pregnant woman is infected, the child may develop microcephaly, a less than normal head size and other congenital defects.

Public Health England lists both Fiji and Tonga as a moderate risk to Zika.

The British Health Department Advice for Travelers in Fiji says: “Pregnant women should consider postponing non-essential travel until after pregnancy.”

Harry and Meghan arrive to Fiji next Tuesday, traveling to Tonga on Thursday.

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