The Brazilian government announced that it is considering imposing fines on private landowners who do not allow public health officials on their property to eliminate breeding sites of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito that transmits the Zika virus, according to various news reports.
On February 1, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff signed a decree allowing health officials to enter abandoned public and private buildings, by force if necessary, to eradicate mosquito breeding sites, even without authorization from the landowners, reports El Universal.
Under the decree, in cases when access to property proves “essential for disease containment,” health officials can request the assistance of police authority if the landowner denies them entry.
On Monday, Jacques Wagner, a member of the Rousseff administration, told reporters hat the government was considering imposing fines on landowners who deny entrance to health authorities, adding that it would also apply to repeat offenders who continue to keep Aedes aegypti breeding sites on their property, reports Capital Teresina.
“It is a fine for irresponsibility in maintaining your property,” declared Wagner.
There is a possibility that the fine would also apply to owners of vacant lots and closed residences, indicated Helder Barbalho, a member of the Rousseff administration.
The measure was discussed at a meeting Monday between the Brazilian president and nine ministers.
Xinhua Español reports that the proposal came after Brazil deployed more than 220,000 Brazilian troops and 272,000 public health workers to visit nearly 3 million homes in 270 municipalities across the country, in search of possible Aedes Aegypti mosquito breeding grounds, as part of a national campaign against Zika.
Of all the properties visited, 295,000 were closed and 15,000 landowners refused entry to health workers, reveals the report.
The Brazilian attorney general’s office has been charged with weighing whether implementing a fine would constitute an illegal invasion of property since the residences are private lands protected by law.
El Universal reports that the legal basis for any fine would be that a person is contributing to the spread of the Zika virus by not allowing health officials to combat the disease.
Wagner reportedly indicated that the Rousseff administration is arguing that the fine is necessary because the country is in the midst of Zika virus health emergency. Brazil is the country most affected by Zika with an estimated 1.5 million Brazilians having contracted the virus.
At the beginning of this month, the Brazilian government implemented provisional measure that “allows the forced entry of health workers in abandoned public and private buildings to combat Aedes aegypti, which transmits dengue, chikungunya fever and the Zika virus,” reports Capital Teresina.
In the absence of a vaccine or preventive drug to combat the booming virus, Brazil launched the “Zero Zika” campaign, which involves the deployment of tens of thousands of soldiers to millions of homes and businesses across the country to eliminate Aedes Aegypti breeding grounds.
Between Monday and Thursday, at least 55,000 Brazilian troops will combat the Aedes aegypti in 270 cities across the country, the government announced.
In March, the government will focus on raising awareness of the Zika virus in private and private schools as well as universities, notes Capital Teresina.
The Zika virus has been linked to microcephaly, a neurological disorder that causes abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains in newborns. It has also been associated to Guillain-Barré, a rare syndrome that causes the immune system to attack nerve cells, leading to muscle weakness and even paralysis.