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US health officials say Zika virus “scarier” than first thought

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The Zika virus is “scarier” than first thought and the mosquito that spreads it is currently present in around 30 US states, top American health officials say.

The virus is linked to broader set of complications with pregnancy, not just shrunken head or microcephaly, but also prematurity, blindness and other conditions, the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

There was deep concern about Puerto Rico where they may be hundreds of thousands of cases, principal deputy director of the CDC Dr Anne Schuchat said.

She said there was hope there would not be broad transmission across the US mainland, but that authorities needed to be prepared.

“Everything we look at with this virus seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought,” Dr Schuchat said.

“And so while we absolutely hope we don’t see widespread local transmission in the continental US, we need the states to be ready for that.

“We can’t assume we’re not going to have a big problem.”

A request by President Barack Obama for nearly $US2 billion ($2.6 billion) in assistance to fight the virus has stalled in Congress.

Zika, linked to numerous cases of the birth defect micocephaly in Brazil, is spreading rapidly in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The White House said last week in the absence of the emergency funds it will redirect $US589 million ($775 million), mostly from money already provided by Congress to tackle the Ebola virus, to prepare for Zika before it begins to emerge in the continental US as the weather warms.

Agencies

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PM congratulates Nepali national cricket team

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KATHMANDU— Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has congratulated Nepali national cricket team for being able to clinch the International T20 series.

PM Oli in a tweet extended best wishes and congratulations saying he was very happy to know Nepal’s win over the UAE by 14 runs in the third match of the series.

Winning T20 series is another landmark success for Nepali cricket, he said, adding, “It is big achievement for Nepal’s cricket. I would like to heartily congratulate entire members of Nepali cricket squad”.

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