The Aedes aegypti mosquito is the insect vector for the zika virus as well as dengue and chikungunya
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad -- Trinidad and Tobago has declared a national health emergency over the mosquito-borne Zika virus.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh announced on Friday that the virus posed a clear threat to Trinidad and Tobago. And he warned pregnant women to protect themselves from the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the Trinidad Express reported.
Deyalsingh said a rapid response unit was being set up to tackle the zika virus aggressively. He said the ministries of local government and national security and other state agencies were involved in the programme, which will get off the ground in the coming weeks.
Deyalsingh said fogging and spraying would continue throughout the country, as well as programmes to educate citizens on the virus.
Deyalsingh said all Members of Parliament are involved in the programme and called on all citizens to do their part.
He said all major Carnival venues would be sprayed.
However, he noted that it was not practical to screen thise arriving at the country's ports of entry.
On Wednesday head of the World Health Organisation, Dr Margaret Chan said the virus, which has been linked to birth defects in children in Brazil has gone from “a mild threat to one of alarming proportions”, and that there was no known vaccine for the zika virus. The best we can do right now is figure out ways to control mosquito populations, she said.
Chan said: “We've actually known of zika's existence for decades, but it wasn't a major concern to humans until an outbreak hit the Pacific islands in 2007. After appearing in the Americas last year, it's now spread explosively to 23 countries and territories in the area.”
While there was not yet a direct link between the zika virus infection and birth defects, it was “strongly suspected”.