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Swine flu – WHO raises pandemic threat to level five

April 30, 2009

The World Health Organisation has raised the pandemic threat level from swine flu to five – its second highest level. It now believes a global outbreak of the virus is imminent – and has called on all nations to act immediately. This report from Sky News about two hours ago said that WHO chief Margaret Chan said “it really is all of humanity that is under threat in a pandemic”.

“All countries should immediately activate their pandemic preparedness plans,” she added.

“Countries should remain on high alert for unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia.

“At this stage, effective and essential measures include heightened surveillance, early detection and treatment of cases, and infection control in all health facilities.”

The threat level is raised to five when there is human-to-human spread of the virus in at least two countries in one region.

Once the virus shows effective transmission in two different regions of the world a full pandemic outbreak would be declared.

The raising of the level follows intensive consultations with experts and analysis of the spreading virus within and from Mexico.

Sky’s health correspondent Thomas Moore said: “I think it’s really important that people don’t panic.

“This really is a message to governments and to the pharmaceutical industry that a pandemic is imminent.

“That you have to do everything to ramp up your plans, to ramp up vaccine production and also to make sure there are anti-virals drugs in stock.

“This is really important for them.”

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