Zika Virus Further information
The ITAA has been advised the information below by ECTAA, Group of European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Associations within the EU. Information supplied 4th of February 2016.
- Countries / territories affected:
For an updated list of countries or territories with reported confirmed autochthonous cases of Zika virus infection, please consult the website of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
- European response:
The European Commission has decided to convene a meeting of the Health Security Committee on 9 February to discuss it. Discussions will be informed by the updated risk analysis published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on 22 January. At that time, the ECDC said that “the risk of transmission of Zika virus infection is extremely low in the EU during winter season” as the climatic conditions are not suitable for the activity of the mosquito that carries the virus. As of 28 January 2016, no autochthonous Zika virus transmission has been reported in the EU (only a number of travel-related imported cases have been reported in EU countries).
In addition to the meeting of experts, the Commission has proposed to make €10 million available from the EU budget as a matter of urgency for research into the virus.
- Travel advice issued by Member States:
As on 3 February 2016, at least 13 European countries advise pregnant women against travel or to consider deferring travel to (some/all) countries affected by Zika. 7 European countries advise caution.
- Statements from international health and tourism organisations:
WHO has announced a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
ECDC suggests a number of options for public health authorities, among other:
– Advise all travellers to affected areas to take protective measures to prevent mosquito bites, including during the day.
– Advise travellers with immune disorders or severe chronic illnesses to seek medical advice before travelling.
– Advise pregnant women and women who are trying to become pregnant, to discuss travel plans with their healthcare providers and to consider postponing their travel to affected areas, especially to areas with increasing or widespread transmission.
UNWTO recalls that according to WHO there should be no restrictions on travel with the affected areas and that travellers to areas with Zika virus transmission should be provided with up to date advice on potential risks and appropriate measures to reduce the possibility of exposure to mosquito bites.
- Industry response:
WTTC has stated that “most airlines, cruise lines and tour operators from originating countries are being flexible, by offering alternative plans or refunds to pregnant women and their families who prefer not to travel to affected areas at this time.”