Norway’s National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) has issued a warning to pregnant women not to fly to Miami, Florida, after the recent outbreak of Zika virus in the city.
The authority said that it had decided to issue a blanket travel warning, even though all 14 cases recorded have been limited to the city’s Wynward neighbourhood.
“We think that it will be difficult for Norwegian tourists to work out neighbourhoods, so we have judged that it is best to discourage travel throughout the Miami area,” Hans Blystad, a senior epidemiologist at the agency, told Norway’s NTB newswire. "That ten new people have been infected by Zika virus since Friday says something about how fast it spreads."
Norwegian Airlines, which last year launched direct flights from Oslo to Florida’s Fort Lauderdale airport, said it would offer pregnant women who did not want to take their flights the chance to fly instead to another destination.
Tour operators Ving and Apollo said that any pregnant women who had booked trips to Florida should get in contact as soon as possible.
“It’s only airline-based tours, not large charter flights, so you’re not talking about a very large group,” Tonje Løkaas Fossum, a spokesperson for Ving, told NTB. “We can look at how we can help and eventually rebook or cancel the trip.”
Zika virus can affect the development of the foetus in the womb, causing microcephaly and Guillain–Barré syndrome.
Since the outbreak of the virus in April 2015 in Brazil, there have been over 3,500 cases of microcephaly, in which infants are born with deformed undersized heads.
Wynwood is an artists’ neighbourhood in the north of the city which boasts many popular restaurants.