Moorosi Tsiane/ Limpho Sello
LESOTHO National Olympics Committee (LNOC) chief executive officer Morake Raleaka says measures are in place to prevent the Lesotho delegation at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from getting infected by the Zika virus.
The Zika virus disease is transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes which also carry the dengue fever, yellow fever, and chikungunya virus. A mosquito bites an infected person and then passes those viruses to other people.
According to the World Health Organisation, sexual transmission of the Zika virus is also possible, while other modes of transmission such as blood transfusion are still being investigated.
The disease can cause fever, rash, joint pain, and redness in the whites of the eye. But most people won’t know they have it. Protection against mosquito bites is a key measure to prevent Zika virus infection. This can be done by wearing clothes, preferably light-coloured, that cover as much of the body as possible; using physical barriers such as window screens or closing doors and windows as well as sleeping under mosquito nets.
The quadrennial sporting festival will be held from 5 to 21 August 2016 in the Brazilian capital Rio de Janeiro with Lesotho sending a delegation of 21 people consisting of eight athletes and 13 support staff.
The athletes will compete in the sporting codes of athletics, cycling and boxing
Addressing a Zika virus awareness session held by the Ministry of Health in Maseru this past week, Raleaka said they were aware of the precautionary measures needed to protect the Lesotho delegation.
“The nation should not worry about our team because we understand the importance of taking precautionary measures while in Brazil. We have been preparing for these games for the past four years, and pulling out would waste tax-payers’ money,” he said.
International Health Regulations (IHR) Manager Khotso Mahomo told the Sunday Express the session was meant to provide the organising committee with information about the virus dealing with prevention, treatment and diagnosis.
“They needed to be informed about the virus before leaving for Brazil so they can make informed decisions,” Mahomo said.
“However, we also made it very clear as the Ministry of Health that upon their return the delegation will be quarantined and subjected to tests because the signs and symptoms can be invisible at times.
“A diagnosis of the Zika virus infection can only be confirmed through laboratory tests on blood or other body fluids, such as urine, saliva or semen.”
Mahomo also urged the delegation to abstain or practice safe sex for at least eight weeks even if they tested negative to the disease upon their return to prevent any chances of transmission.