Source : https://dofollownet.com
June 12, 2009 - Update: Influenza pandemic alert raised to phase 6
On the basis of available evidence and expert assessments of the evidence, the scientific criteria for an influenza pandemic have been met. The Director-General of WHO has therefore decided to raise the level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 5 to phase 6. "The world is now at the start of the 2009 influenza pandemic," she said at a press conference today.
Read Dr Chan's statement to the press
June 3, 2009 - The World Health Organization just released an update at 6:00 GMT this morning, indicating that 66 countries have officially reported 19,273 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection, including 117 deaths.
Keiji Fukuda, WHO Assistant Director-General, admitted yesterday that the pattern of transmission is moving toward a pandemic (level 6 on the WHO's alert scale) and that the organization is worrying about the situation in in Spain, United Kingdom, Chile, Japan and Australia. These five countries have experienced in recent days a steady increase in the number of patients who were not directly related to travel to Mexico or North America.
"They are in transition towards the model of Mexico, United States and Canada, where the H1N1 circulates freely and without being tied to specific population groups" said Fukuda.
Several characteristics of the H1N1 virus make the scientists define it as "very special": it continues to spread to the north despite the arrival of the heat, while "normal" influenza virus is desactivated by ultraviolet rays during the summer, and the most serious cases, the deceased or those who develop pneumonia that require the use of respirators, are mostly between 20 and 40 years.
Therefore Fukuda said that each day we come "closer to level 6" (the maximum provided by the organization).
Fukuda stressed that the severity of the disease and its impact on the health of those affected are not caused only by the virus but also depend on the vulnerability of the population and the effectiveness of health systems. So WHO is prepared to inform the world that there can be several situations at once: severe, moderate or mild depending on issues such as country, region, age group or other factors.
Moreover, the situation changes continuously. Between Friday and Monday, the WHO has registered over 1,900 cases. Of these, 1048 were in the USA. Canada followed with 218 and Australia with 150.
The WHO representative admitted that it is possible that both Spain and United Kingdom were now new "exporting countries" of the H1N1 virus.
The organization has not yet registered cases in Africa but there is a suspect case in Egypt: it would be the first of the continent and a cause of higher concern, as the country has already experienced 27 cases of bird flu this year. And WHO experts fear a mutation of H1N1 to become more lethal if it were to mix with the H5N1 avian flu.Read »