Washington: President Barack Obama will ask Congress for $1.8 billion (£1.25bn) in emergency funding to confront the Zika virus, the White House said Monday.
The virus has spread rapidly through the South America, Central America and the Caribbean. Thousands of pregnant women have been infected with the mosquito-borne virus that has been linked to a birth defect.
Mr. President said. “We have to take this very seriously,” he added, “We’re going to be putting up a legislative proposal to Congress to resource both the research on vaccines and diagnostics but also helping in terms of public health systems.”
He said the $1.8 billion in new funds will be spent on mosquito control efforts and vaccine research programmes among other initiatives, and supporting prevention efforts in the most-affected countries, “enhancing the ability of Zika-affected countries to better combat mosquitoes and control transmission” of the virus.
According to the Pan American Health Organization. The virus is currently being transmitted to new patients in 26 countries in the Americas, and CDC has confirmed 50 cases of the virus in the US among people who had travelled to affected regions and returned to the US.
The governor of Florida declared a health emergency in several counties where cases of Zika were discovered.
Last week, Zika was reported in Dallas, Texas the first case of locally transmitted through sexual contact, not a mosquito bite.