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Canadian women’s team putting plans in place to deal with Zika risks

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The Canadian women’s national team has plans in place if the team has to go to one of the Zika Virus “hotspots” during the 2016 Olympic Games.

Over the weekend, the World Health Organization rejected a call from more than 100 prominent doctors that the Rio Games should be postponed or move because of the outbreak of Zika in that country.

In a conference call ahead of Canada’s friendlies against Brazil in Toronto (June 4) and Ottawa (June 7), Canadian women’s national team coach John Herdman said that the team’s medical staff and the Canadian Olympic Committee have been closely monitoring the Zika situation. He said that his medical staff attended a conference last week where Zika was the top item on the agenda, and they returned with “good, clear information about the risks.”

Herdman said that the Canadian team, as it stands, doesn’t stand much risk of exposure,

“The hot spots for the virus, sit outside of our travel route,” he said.

But if the virus, which has been linked to birth defects, spreads or Canada has to travel to a hotspot for an elimination match, the staff are ready. Herdman said players will be instructed to wear long-sleeve shirts and mosquito nets will be erected to protect the players’ bedrooms. The virus is spread through mosquito bites. Herdman said that he knows his players might be uncomfortable needing to wear long-sleeved clothing in hot, humid conditions, but it might be a necessity.

And he said that the women’s program is constantly waiting on new infornation.

“The COC is doing its due diligence to make sure the athletes are safe. We will always follow their guidance.”

According to a release issued over the weekend by the WHO: “Based on current assessment, cancelling or changing the location of the 2016 Olympics will not significantly alter the international spread of Zika virus. Brazil is one of almost 60 countries and territories which to date report continuing transmission of Zika by mosquitoes. People continue to travel between these countries and territories for a variety of reasons. The best way to reduce risk of disease is to follow public health travel advice.

PPadThe11ca“WHO advises pregnant women not to travel to areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission. This includes Rio de Janeiro. Pregnant women’s sex partners returning from areas with circulating virus should be counselled to practise safer sex or abstain throughout the pregnancy.”

Here are the WHO’s tips for anyone traveling to Brazil for the Games:

Whenever possible, during the day, protect themselves from mosquito bites by using insect repellents and by wearing clothing – preferably light-coloured – that covers as much of the body as possible.

Practise safer sex (for example, use condoms correctly and consistently) or abstain from sex during their stay and for at least 4 weeks after their return, particularly if they have had or are experiencing symptoms of Zika virus.

Choose air-conditioned accommodation (where windows and doors are usually kept closed to prevent the cool air from escaping, and mosquitoes cannot enter the rooms).

Avoid visiting areas in cities and towns with no piped water or poor sanitation (ideal breeding grounds of mosquitoes), where the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes is higher.

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