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Bookings To Latin America Fall After Zika Warning

Airline bookings to parts of Latin America and the Caribbean have slipped globally since a US public health agency warned pregnant women against travel to areas where the Zika virus is spreading.

Bookings to regions hit by the mosquito-borne virus fell 3.4 percent from a year ago between January 15, when the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory, and February 10, the travel data analysis company ForwardKeys report found.

Before the warning, bookings were up 4.9 percent during December and early January to the same destinations from a year ago, according to the report.

A move by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on February 1 to classify the Zika outbreak an international emergency appeared to accelerate the slide, with bookings dropping 10 percent between the WHO announcement and February 10, the report found.

The study, which analysed around 14 million daily reservation transactions, provides early evidence of Zika's potentially broad impact on travel demand to some Latin American countries.

Scientists are investigating a potential link between Zika infections of pregnant women and more than 4,000 suspected cases in Brazil of microcephaly, a condition marked by abnormally small head size that can result in developmental problems.

(Reuters)