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  1. ITV Report

Brazil declares end to Zika virus emergency after fall in cases

Credit: PA

Brazil has declared an end to its public health emergency over the Zika virus as the number of cases has decreased.

Officials recorded 95% fewer cases between January and April than during the same period last year.

The illness has been linked to birth defects in almost 30 countries, including microcephaly, where babies are born with abnormally small heads and restricted brain development.

In response to the outbreak in 2015, Brazil launched a mosquito-eradication campaign which officials say have helped to dramatically reduce the number of cases of the virus.

The World Health Organisation lifted its own international emergency in November 2016.

The Zika virus has been linked with causing birth defects in babies. Credit: AP Photo/Carlos Giusti

During the height of the epidemic requests for abortions doubled in affected Latin American countries, a study revealed.

The secretary for health surveillance at Brazil's Health Ministry, Adeilson Cavalcante said: "The end of the emergency doesn't mean the end of surveillance or assistance to affected families."

"The Health Ministry and other organisations involved in this area will maintain a policy of fighting Zika, dengue and chikungunya," the official added.

All three diseases are carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

But the World Health Organisation has warned that Zika is "here to stay," even when cases of it fall off, and that fighting the disease will be an ongoing battle.