Wednesday, April 29, 2009
The World Health Organization (WHO) today raised the pandemic threat level to Phase 5 meaning the world is at imminent risk of a pandemic outbreak from the H1N1 swine flu.
Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said:
“I have decided to raise the level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to Phase 5. The world is better prepared for an influenza pandemic than at any time in history. For the first time in history we can track the pandemic in real time.”
Phase 6 is the final stage — signifying a global pandemic of a new and deadly disease.
The H1N1 swine flu virus has spread around the world at an alarming rate, killing an estimated 159 people in Mexico, although the unofficial number of dead may be 30 times this number, and claiming the life of a Mexican toddler in the United States. The disease has infecting people in at least nine other countries, including New Zealand, Brazil, the UK, Scotland, Germany, France, Spain, Canada and Israel.
The virus is a never-before-seen mix of swine, avian and human viruses and it is not clear how deadly it is or how easily it transmits from one person to another.
Dr. Chan said:
“No matter what the situation is, the international community should treat this as a window of opportunity to ramp up response. It is really all of humanity that is under threat during a pandemic.”