BREAKING NEWS

Brazil has declared an end to a national emergency over the Zika virus, following a sharp decline in cases.

The emergency had been in place since November 2015, when the virus was linked to the birth of babies with abnormally small heads. The threat peaked just as Brazil prepared to host the 2016 Olympics.

Some 7,900 suspected cases of Zika were registered between January and April, a 95 percent drop compared to the same period a year ago, according to the latest epidemiological data. To date, more than 2,200 cases of babies born with microcephaly have been confirmed among 10,000 reports of suspicions.

The health ministry said while the disease remains a public health concern, Brazil no longer meets the requirements required to maintain the state of emergency – namely that the epidemic is unexpected, unusual or that it risks spreading abroad.

It added that measures taken to control the population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes had proved effective in combating not only Zika but also dengue fever and chikunguña.

The World Health Organisation lifted its own international emergency last year, saying Zika is here to stay.