Thursday, June 11, 2009
The World Health Organization today declared a Phase 6 swine flu pandemic, the first global flu epidemic in 41 years, as infections climbed in the United States, Europe, Australia, South America and elsewhere.
In a statement sent to member countries, WHO said it decided to raise the pandemic warning level from phase 5 to 6 — its highest alert, after holding an emergency meeting on swine flu with its experts.
The long-awaited pandemic decision is scientific confirmation that a new flu virus has emerged and is quickly circling the globe. It will trigger drugmakers to speed up production of a swine flu vaccine and prompt governments to devote more money toward efforts to contain the virus.
The last pandemic — the Hong Kong flu of 1968, killed about 1 million people.
In the United States, where there have been more than 13,000 cases and at least 27 deaths from swine flu, officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the move would not change how the U.S. tackled swine flu.