Posted June 07, 2018 06:00:00A new outbreak of the Zika Virus has claimed the lives of at least 22 people in Australia.
The outbreak was triggered by a case of the disease in Melbourne.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Health Minister Greg Hunt said the outbreak had affected around 1,500 people in a country with a population of about 7.5 million.
He said the virus had been linked to a small outbreak in Brazil and an outbreak in South Africa.
He also said it was “not unusual for small outbreaks to lead to large outbreaks” in the world.
“We are now facing an outbreak that is far bigger than anything we have ever seen,” he said.
“This is a major threat to the Australian way of life and we are prepared to respond in a way that is proportionate to the scale of the situation.”
Dr Michael Reith, the director of the Institute of Public Health and Health Services, said the first cases of Zika had occurred in Brazil, but that more cases were likely to follow.
“There is a lot of concern around the spread of Zika,” Dr Reith said.
He warned that the virus was a major public health issue that could affect Australia’s economic and social health.
“If we continue on our current trajectory, we are heading for an unprecedented number of new cases, many of them with serious and debilitating consequences for people,” he told the ABC.
“A lot of people are concerned that there will be a lot more outbreaks, so we should prepare to be on edge.”‘
There is no silver bullet’Experts have warned that Australia should not focus solely on controlling the spread.
Dr Reith also warned that there is no “silver bullet” that would eradicate the Zika epidemic.
“It is clear that we are not going to stop the virus, but we are going to take the right actions to stop it, as we have done in Brazil,” he explained.
“I don’t know if we are there yet, but it is a very real possibility that we will be in a position where we will have a virus like the one that caused the pandemic.”
That will put us in an uncomfortable position.
“Zika is a virus transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which lives in the tropical Pacific Ocean and spreads through sexual contact.
It can be spread via the bite of an infected person, coughing, sneezing or sneezer.
It has been linked in the US with a rash and fever.