Zika Virus Country Classification no longer includes Antigua & Barbuda

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) has deactivated its Zika Virus Classification Scheme.

This means that Antigua and Barbuda, and a number of other CARICOM countries no longer have to worry about the backlash from being named as one of the many countries where the Zika virus is active.

Health Minister Molwyn Joseph received the news from PAHO while attending the Third Global Conference on Health and Climate Change in Grenada.

The old Classification Scheme placed Antigua and Barbuda in Category 1 or an area with new introduction or re-introduction with ongoing transmission.

This was used by national Public Health Agencies across the world, to advise travelers that there is a risk of Zika in the country.

The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment said this classification had been negatively impacting the country’s tourism industry since there have been reported hotel cancellations based on the advisory.

Minister Joseph, along with other Ministers of Health of the region are said to have “welcomed the news since they have been advocating for the de-activation of the classification since 2017”.

Last month the issue was raised to the highest political level when CARICOM heads of government, during the United Nations General Assembly, brought it to the attention of the WHO’s Director General.

The old classification scheme, which is no longer active, will be replaced by periodic WHO sanitation (epidemiologic) updates to guide public health programmes and traveler health.

Antigua and Barbuda had its last confirmed case of the Zika Virus Disease in November 2016 and there have been no cases detected since then.