As Jamaica confirms its is affected by the Zika virus, global MICE organisers and venues have revealed their preparations for a possible outbreak.
Jamaica’s Foreign Office said one case of the mosquito-born virus, linked to brain abnormalities in unborn babies, has been detected on the island.
It said visitors should follow the advice of the National Travel Health Network and Centre, particularly if pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
Joyce DiMascio, chief executive of the Exhibition & Event Association of Australasia told CMW that, for the short-term, the Australian business events sector has a low level of risk. “The Australian health authorities are well equipped to manage threats associated with the Zika Virus should the country become exposed to the threat. At this stage Australia is not on the WHO list of countries affected. I’ve put out a note to key members, and will advise if there is any further comment to the above.”
She added that the country has a very good national incident response plan which is activated by the health authorities when required. “I was involved in its development for Sars and Avian influenza. We are not panicking – the health authorities will activate the plan and engage industry at the appropriate time.”
Ranko Filipovic, vice-president, Croatian Meeting Professional Association, added that there has been no effects so far in Croatia or in the neighbourhood.
Messe Frankfurt, meanwhile, told CMW that the organisation is in close contact with the health authorities. “According to their most recent statements, there is currently no impact expected for events taking place at the Frankfurt fairgrounds, nor at other Messe Frankfurt event venues worldwide,” said a spokesperson from its Hong Kong office.
“Should there be any change to the current status, Messe Frankfurt will implement the recommendations and guidelines of the World Health Organisation, and of German federal, state and municipal health authorities. This applies to all events organised by Messe Frankfurt. Irrespective thereof, Messe Frankfurt consistently ensures high-quality, comprehensive medical care at all of their events.”
Meanwhile, tour operators including Thomson, First Choice and Thomas Cook are allowing customers due to travel to Zika-infected countries the option to switch to other destinations free of charge.
The virus has mainly affected Brazil and Colombia, but has spread to at least 23 countries in Latin America including the Dominican Republic, Barbados and Mexico and has also reached Cape Verde and Samoa.
The World Health Organisation has declared Zika a public health emergency.