International delegates to the United Nations have discussed for the first time the outbreak of the Zika virus.
The mosquito-borne virus has spread to more than 30 countries, mainly in Central and South America. Researchers suspect a link between the virus and a rise in the number of babies born with abnormally small heads, or microcephaly.
The World Health Organization has declared Zika an international public health emergency.
UN officials briefed a meeting of the Economic and Social Council in New York on Tuesday on the current state of the outbreak and what’s being done about it.
A delegate from Brazil, where Zika is most prevalent, said international cooperation is needed to fight the virus across borders.
The delegate said Brazil will host the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August as planned.
Representatives from other countries called for action based on scientific research.
Minister at Japan’s UN mission, Noboru Sekiguchi, noted the virus could spread in the northern hemisphere including Japan in the coming months as temperatures rise.
He said Japan shares Brazil’s sense of crisis as it prepares to host the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
A delegate from the Vatican expressed strong concern that more women will seek abortion out of fear their babies could be infected by the virus.
Source and image: NHK