Puerto Rico faces double trouble as it continues to deal with persistent spread of Zika virus amid debt crisis.
In February, the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency due to Zika virus, which has stricken Latin America the most. The virus has already spread to the United States and has risks of affecting Europe as well.
Aside from Zika outbreak, Puerto Rico is also facing a debt crisis, forcing businesses to close and uncompensated doctors to leave the country. Such conditions combined with high poverty rates make it difficult for people to get appropriate medical care.
Focus On Zika
In the U.S., approximately 300 cases of Zika virus have been recorded. Out of this number, almost half are documented in Puerto Rico as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suspects 122 women to have acquired the virus.
"One challenge of this Zika virus outbreak is the lack of understanding of the magnitude of risk and spectrum of outcomes associated with Zika virus infection during pregnancy," the CDC writes.
Just this month, the first case of microcephaly related to the mosquito-borne virus has also been reported.
Focus On Debt
Puerto Rico has accumulated about $72 million in debt, causing the government to miss most of a third scheduled payment for doctors.
The country is feeling the crisis, with "out of business" signs increasingly plastered on building doors.
Impact On Tourism
With the double crises that Puerto Rico is facing, the tourism sector of the country is also at risk of being severed. In fact, the tourism rates went down by 3 percent and 5 percent in February and March respectively. Although these statistics cannot be definitively connected with Zika outbreak and debt crisis, it is notable that these coincided with the first public health emergency declaration.
Despite the white-sand beaches and beautiful coral reefs in the country, it is not impossible that the ongoing national problems may scare away tourists. Such may take a toll in the overall economy of the country as 7.1 percent of the island's GDP is composed of hotel businesses.