Swine flu pandemic 'imminent' fears WHO30th April 2009
The World Health Organisation has indicated that a swine flu pandemic is imminent.
The WHO raised the alert to level five – just one below pandemic status - indicating human-to-human transmission in at least two countries.
This status is regarded as a “strong signal” that a pandemic is now imminent.
Latest figures show that after Mexico, the US has the highest number of confirmed cases with 91.
And in Europe, senior health officials say that deaths are expected, in the hundreds or even thousands.
Mexico has 168 suspected deaths, with eight confirmed, and the country’s President Felipe Calderon has now announced the partial suspension of non-essential work and services from May 1 to May 5.
After an emergency WHO meeting in Geneva, General Margaret Chan announced the latest alert level and urged all countries to activate their pandemic plans.
This included heightened surveillance and infection-control measures with action needing to be undertaken with increased urgency.
She emphasised that it is the "whole of humanity that is under threat in a pandemic" but also said the world was better prepared than it ever has been to cope with an influenza pandemic.
The director-general of health and consumer protection in Europe, Robert Madelin, said deaths were likely.
"It is not a question of whether people will die, but more a question of how many. Will it be hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands?", he said.
Other countries with confirmed cases are New Zealand, Canada, UK, Spain, Germany, Israel, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Austria and Peru.
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Title: Swine flu pandemic 'imminent' fears WHO
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 11206
Date Added: 30th Apr 2009