Puerto Rico declared a public health emergency over the Zika virus on Friday afternoon, following the confirmation of 22 cases of the infection, including one pregnant woman, and one man who developed the severe Guillain-Barre syndrome neurological reaction.
Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla said on Friday that “federal authorities are helping develop an education campaign and prevention strategies,” according to the Associated Press.
The governor also announced that prices on condoms would be frozen, following two reports of Zika being transmitted through sexual contact in Texas.
ABC News reports that the pregnant woman diagnosed with Zika in Puerto Rico was in the first trimester of her pregnancy.
CNBC observes that “with a 45 percent poverty rate and staggering debt of $70 billion, Puerto Rico was already in dire straits.” The Zika alert could hamper the island’s economy even further, as airlines have begun offering refunds to travelers who purchased tickets to areas affected by the virus. CNBC said airlines refused to comment on how many passengers have canceled trips to Puerto Rico.
“The situation doesn’t look good right now. We already get calls from people asking if it is safe to travel to Puerto Rico, considering the economic conditions. If you combine this with the CDC’s advice, it could certainly influence some people not to travel,” commented Justin Vélez-Hagan of The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce. He said it would likely be several months before the data was available to determine how much Puerto Rican tourism had suffered from the Zika alert.