The WHO has declared “the recent cluster of microcephaly cases and other neurological disorders” thought to be connected to the Zika virus a “a public health emergency of international concern.” And that health emergency will likely hit impacted countries in more than one way: Last week, we suggested that the Zika virus could have a serious effect on the tourism-dependent economies of the Caribbean and Central America, and it looks like that’s exactly what’s happening. As the Boston Globe reports:
A survey from the travel risk-management company On Call International, released Friday, found that 64 percent of Americans said they would cancel trips to areas affected by Zika…
We cannot be totally sure about the impact of the news regarding Zika,” said Laura Rodriguez, the lead analyst for ForwardKeys, a company that predicts travel trends through booking patterns. “The Caribbean as a whole is showing a decline that has become sharper starting Jan. 25, but we still cannot assess Zika to be the only, or main, reason for that.
Unsurprisingly, this is a particular problem for a region popular among newlyweds and young families.
If regional economies are badly affected, we could see major problems in the Caribbean and Central America, including possible political instability and migration to the United States.
[This post has undergone updates to reflect the fact that it is the disorders believed to be connected to Zika and not Zika itself that were declared an emergency by WHO]