WHO consults emergency flu committee

Jun 05, 2009

The World Health Organisation on Friday began consulting its emergency committee of flu experts on the severity of the swine flu virus and possible travel recommendations.

However, the UN health agency was not expecting to make a decision on whether to declare a fully-fledged swine flu pandemic Friday, a WHO spokeswoman said, even though the body of scientists could recommend that it did so.

The agenda of the meeting was to discuss the "severity of H1N1 and also to review international health-related measures," WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said.

She later told AFP: "There is no decision to expect to move to phase six today," referring to the six-level pandemic alert scale.

The alert is now at phase five, which signals that a pandemic is "imminent."

Gregory Hartl, a WHO spokesman added that travel recommendations would be discussed by the emergency committee.

The experts would also be asked to give their opinion on "adding a characterization of severity" to the alert scale.

A senior WHO official had said Tuesday that the world was "getting closer" to a as the virus shows early signs of spreading locally in countries outside the Americas.

"Globally we believe that we are at phase five but are getting closer to phase six," Keiji Fukuda, WHO assistant director-general, said then.

He cited Australia, Britain, Japan, Spain and Chile in particular as countries where the flu was showing early signs of local spread.

Australia's swine flu tally jumped by more than a third to nearly 900 on Thursday.

Some 69 countries around the world have reported 21,940 cases to the WHO, according to latest figures on the WHO website.

Under the WHO's guidelines, one key criteria for a move to the highest phase six alert would be established community spread in a country outside the first region in which the disease was initially reported, in this case, outside the Americas.

Other than geographical spread, WHO officals said last month that they were also looking at the severity of the virus, possible changes in the pattern of illness, its impact on poor countries or circulation in the southern hemisphere where it could mix with seasonal flu.

Fukuda said Tuesday that the situation could be described as "moderate" rather than "mild".

This is because "we do not have a full handle on the number of people with serious illnesses," he added.

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: US warns against traveling to Ebola-hit countries

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

World 'getting closer' to swine flu pandemic: WHO

Jun 02, 2009

The world is "getting closer" to a swine flu pandemic as the virus shows early signs of spreading locally in countries outside the Americas, a senior World Health Organisation official said Tuesday.

GlaxoSmithKline taking pandemic vaccine orders

May 15, 2009

(AP) -- Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline said Friday it has received orders from several countries to stockpile pandemic vaccine as soon as it gets the vaccine's key ingredient from the World Health Organization.

How WHO measures a pandemic

Apr 28, 2009

The World Health Organization has six phases of pandemic alert to assess the potential for a new global flu outbreak.

WHO meets on production of swine flu vaccine

May 14, 2009

(AP) -- As swine flu cases hit 6,500 worldwide, World Health Organization officials were meeting with vaccine manufacturers and other experts in Geneva on Thursday to discuss making a vaccine to fight the virus.

Recommended for you

Female baby boomers with asthma? You may need help

1 hour ago

Women over the age of 65 face numerous barriers to good health: an increased risk for obesity, greater struggles against poverty and higher rates of asthma with worse health outcomes. An article published in the August issue ...

New guidelines help keep asthma out of 'yellow zone'

1 hour ago

If you have asthma, you may have an asthma action plan with a "stoplight system" to help you recognize and respond to changes and understand when symptoms are getting worse and need more attention. If you're in the green ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

phlipper
not rated yet Jun 05, 2009
You really have to wonder why health angencies and news organizations are so concerned about a flu virus that is much milder than most strains. The more they try to justify their jobs, the more stupid they look.