Obama asks Congress for $1.8 bln to fight Zika

President Obama is asking the Congress for more than 1.8 billion U.S. dollars in emergency funding to fight Zika at home and abroad, though he also urges the public not to panic over the mosquito-borne virus.

Under the proposal, the Department of Health and Human Services would receive 1.48 billion dollars to support readiness and response capacity.

And 376 million dollars would be used for supporting affected countries’ ability to control mosquitoes and the transmission of the virus.

On the same day, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put its Zika emergency operations center on the highest level of activation.

More than 300 staff have been working at the command center, since Jan. 22, to monitor and coordinate the Zika emergency response.

The CDC also reported 50 laboratory-confirmed cases among U.S. travelers from December 2015 to Feb. 5.

The Zika virus has been spreading rapidly in South and Central America and the Caribbean.

The virus, which usually causes mild illness, has been linked to about 4,000 cases of severe birth defects in Brazil.

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