Puerto Rico is officially in a declared public health emergency over the Zika virus following 1,914 newly reported cases in the past week alone, The Guardian reported Friday night. The U.S. Surgeon General predicts 25% of the U.S. territory's population will become infected with the mosquito-carried virus by the end of 2016 after visiting Puerto Rico yesterday.
The sharp increase in reported infections adds to Puerto Rico's already 10,690 cases of the Zika virus since December. The government's official acknowledgement of the virus' disastrous potential allows it to dip into its emergency funds for the islands, as well as awarding grants and sending emergency workers in places where necessary.
Puerto Rico's governor Alejandro García Padilla told the Guardian he had asked U.S. officials to recognize Zika virus in the territory as a public health emergency. "Zika poses a hidden threat to future generations of Puerto Ricans, and I feel the responsibility to do everything in my power to fight the spread of it," he told the publication.
"This administration is committed to meeting the Zika outbreak in Puerto Rico with the necessary urgency," Sylvia Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services, said in a statement.