After a nine-month emergency designation, the WHO reclassified Zika as a long-term epidemic similar to other mosquito-borne diseases like malaria and yellow fever.
Dr. Peter Salama, WHO’s emergency program executive director, stressed at a press conference the announcement was not “downgrading the importance of Zika,” rather “sending the message that Zika is here to stay and the WHO response is here to stay.”
The WHO issued a public health emergency for the virus in February after a surge in reports of microcephaly, a neurological defects in newborns that has since been linked to Zika.
Nearly 30 countries have reported instances of the virus. Brazil was hit the hardest with nearly 2,100 cases, according to the Associated Press.