WHO raises swine flu alert to 'pandemic level 5'

The World Health Organization has raised its pandemic alert for swine flu to the second highest level, meaning that it believes a global outbreak of the disease is imminent.

WHO says the phase 5 alert means there is sustained human-to-human spread in at least two countries. It also signals that efforts to produce a vaccine will be ramped up.

WHO has confirmed human cases of swine flu in Mexico, the United States, Canada, Britain, Israel, New Zealand and Spain. Mexico and the U.S. have reported deaths.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan made the decision Wednesday to raise the alert level from phase 4 — signifying transmission in only one country — after reviewing the latest scientific evidence on the outbreak.

"It is important to take this very seriously," Chan told a press conference watched around the globe on Wednesday.

As fear and uncertainty about the disease ricocheted around the globe, nations took all sorts of precautions, some more useful than others.

Britain closed a school after a 12-year-old girl was found to have the disease. Egypt slaughtered all its pigs and the central African nation of Gabon became the latest nation to ban pork imports, despite assurances that swine flu was not related to eating pork.

Cuba eased its flight ban, deciding just to block flights coming in from Mexico. And Asian nations greeted returning airport travelers with teams of medical workers and carts of disinfectants, eager to keep swine flu from infecting their continent.

In Mexico City, the epicenter of the epidemic, the mayor said Wednesday the outbreak seemed to be stabilizing and he was considering easing the citywide shutdown that closed schools, restaurants, concert halls and sports arenas.

Swine flu is suspected of killing more than 150 people in Mexico and sickening over 2,400 there.

Nearly 100 cases have now been confirmed in the U.S. across 11 states, and health officials reported Wednesday that a 23-month-old Mexican boy had died in Texas.

Across Europe, Germany confirmed three swine flu cases and Austria one, while the number of confirmed cases rose to five in Britain and ten in Spain.

WHO conducted a scientific review Wednesday to determine exactly what is known about how the disease spreads, how it affects human health and how it can be treated.

The U.S., the European Union and other countries have discouraged nonessential travel to Mexico. Cuba suspended all regular and charter flights from Mexico to the island but was still allowing airlines to return travelers to Mexico.

Egypt’s government ordered the slaughter of all pigs in the country as a precaution, though no swine flu cases have been reported there. Egypt’s overwhelmingly Muslim population does not eat pork, but farmers raise up to 350,000 pigs for its Christian minority.

In Australia, officials were testing more than 100 people with flu symptoms for the virus and the government gave health authorities wide powers to contain contagious diseases.

“(We can make) sure that people are isolated and perhaps detained if they don’t cooperate and are showing symptoms,” said Health Minister Nicola Roxon.


Gramma 2 Many said...

A concerted effort, in my opinion to create panic and exercise more control over the "masses."
Four years cannot come soon enough.

Chuck said...

My gut is that we will be fairly okay here. It doesn't appear to have a high morbidity rate. This combined with our health care system (even as bad as it appears, the Doctors and RNs are second to none) will make the disease fairly treatable, even with an outbreak.

The real danger is in developing countries. This could kill a lot of people if it got into sub-Saharan Africa or ripped through Central and South America.

Readywolf said...

The "Pandemic Severity Index" and the "Global Pandemic Alert Level" are two different things. The former ranges from 1-5 and the latter ranges from 1-6. It is the Global Pandemic Alert Level that is set to 5 at the moment. The "Pandemic Severity Index", which is shown in the chart and predicts how many people will die from the pandemic, has not been set yet due to insufficient data at this time.

Papa Frank said...

Thank you Readywolf. I have changed the chart above to the correct one now.

Ducky's here said...

Is this al-Qaeda bioterrorism centered in Mexico or is Obama behind it as a means to initiate his civilian security patrols which will have Black Muslims armed and patrolling all our neighborhoods?

Or are they working together?

Papa Frank said...

Still stupid I see Ducky!!!

Yehudi said...

I hate to be negative here, but there are certainly no mental giants among the arabs, since, "Egypt’s government ordered the slaughter of all pigs in the country as a precaution, though no swine flu cases have been reported there. Egypt’s overwhelmingly Muslim population does not eat pork, but farmers raise up to 350,000 pigs for its Christian minority."It has nothing to do with pigs, and there've been no cases of this flu in Egypt. Morons.