21 Jun 2016

Support worker pulls out of Olympics over Zika fears

1:17 pm on 21 June 2016

A New Zealand Olympic support worker has decided not to go to the Olympics in Brazil because of fears of contracting the Zika virus, New Zealand Olympic Committee says.

But no athletes have withdrawn from the games, which start in August.

Zika mosquito

Zika mosquito Photo: 123RF

Health officials advised the Olympic committee about the implications of the virus for anyone who is pregnant or hoping to become pregnant.

The mosquito-borne virus has been linked to severe birth defects.

Almost 100 people have been treated for Zika in New Zealand this year.

More than 150 international doctors, scientists and researchers have penned an open letter to the World Health Organisation, saying the games should be delayed or shifted.

But WHO officials say risk assessment plans are in place, and the games can begin on time.

The Ministry of Health said it would not take extra steps to screen people for Zika when they return from Brazil as the risk of the virus being spread in New Zealand was very low.

A US cyclist and two golfers, all of them men, are so far known to have withdrawn from the Olympics because of concerns about the virus.

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