NEW DELHI — The Zika virus has hit India's Tata Motors, which has decided to rebrand its soon-to-be launched hatchback vehicle which was to have been called Zica, an abbreviation of “Zippy Car.''
The car was shown for the first time Feb. 3 at the Auto Expo 2016 on New Delhi's outskirts.
Tata Motors said in a statement Feb. 2 that the car would carry the Zica nameplate during the exhibition, but a new name will be announced in a few weeks.
It said the company decided to rebrand the car to empathize with the hardships caused by the outbreak of the Zika virus in many countries.
The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus a global emergency because of its explosive spread across the Americas.
The Tata Group is one of India's largest and best-known conglomerates. Its more than 100 companies include Tata Motors, owner of the Jaguar-Land Rover brand; Tata Steel; Tata Consultancy Services; Tata Beverages, the maker of Tetley brand tea; and holdings in insurance, investment and telecommunications.
PTI adds from Geneva: The Zika virus is "spreading explosively" in the Americas and can infect up to four million people, the WHO warned Jan. 29 as it issued a warning to all countries, including India, who have the vector of Aedes mosquito that also causes Dengue and Chikungunya.
The Zika virus is caused by the aggressive Aedes aegypti mosquito that also causes Dengue and Chikungunya — both the viral diseases are of great public health concern to tropical countries like India.
Dr. Marcos Espinal, director of Communicable Diseases and Health Analysis at WHO, warned that Zika "will go everywhere the mosquito is. We should assume that. We should not wait for it to spread."
Zika originated in Africa and also exists in Asia.
Meanwhile, WHO chief Margaret Chan warned that the virus "is now spreading explosively," and the global health body expected up to four million cases of the disease. She also expressed concern over the potential of global spread of the disease, owing to the large geographical spread of the Aedes mosquito.
Though Chikungunya and Dengue are much more rampant in many parts of the world than the Zika virus, the possible association between the Aedes mosquito and neurological impairments could bring the spotlight on mosquito-borne diseases globally.