MOH under fire for lack of zika virus info

Samoa is the only Pacific country listed as having the virus but others don't agree. Photo / AP
Samoa is the only Pacific country listed as having the virus but others don't agree. Photo / AP

The Ministry of Health is under fire for failing to provide up-to-date information on the threat the zika virus poses, Radio New Zealand is reporting.

Government website SafeTravel lists Samoa as the only Pacific country with zika, but Secretariat of the Pacific Community senior epidemiologist Dr Salanieta Saketa told RNZ International seven other countries and territories across the region -- Vanuatu, Fiji, Cook Islands, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, the Federated States of Micronesia and Easter Island -- have had cases of the virus.

An outbreak in Latin America of the mosquito-borne virus has been linked to an increase in the number of babies being born smaller-than-usual brains and heads. Pregnant women or those planning to get pregnant, have been told to reconsider travelling to tropical countries.

Labour health spokesperson Annette King told RNZ she was "staggered" the ministry had not provided updated information.

The ministry wouldn't be interviewed but said generic health messages were displayed at all international airports and it was monitoring the situation.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which runs SafeTravel, also declined to be interviewed but advised concerned travellers should consult a doctor before departure.

- NZ Herald

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