Pandemic Phase 6: What does it mean? Print
By Staff and Wire Reports   
Thursday, 11 June 2009 13:48

The swine flu crisis has escalated into the

world's first influenza pandemic in 40 years, the World Health Organization declared Thursday, saying nearly 30,000 cases had been reported in 74 countries so far. WHO chief Margaret Chan said the

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UN body would not recommend travel restrictions or the
closure of borders, adding that further spread of infection is "inevitable".

Under the World Health Organization's alert system for epidemics, phase 6 is the highest level and means a pandemic -- a global epidemic -- is under way.

Here's a look at the phases.

  • Phase 3: An animal or human-animal flu virus causes some infections in people, but with little or no subsequent human-to-human transmission. WHO had its alert at this level as a result of the bird flu outbreaks in Asia since 1997.
  • Phase 4: Verified flu transmission among humans able to cause sustained disease outbreaks in a community. WHO declared Phase 4 on April 27 after confirmation of a rash of swine flu cases, including deaths, in Mexico.
  • Phase 5: Human-to-human spread of the virus in at least two countries in the same region -- a strong signal that a pandemic is imminent. WHO declared Phase 5 on April 29 after a cluster of swine flu cases were confirmed in the United States.
  • Phase 6: A global flu pandemic has begun, including community-level outbreaks in at least two world regions. WHO declared Phase 6 today, after increased infections in Europe, Australia, Chile and elsewhere.
More on these developments here.

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