Swine Flu Update, Monday, April 4 – WHO Ready to Declare Full Pandemic; Debate Still On Over World Reaction
The World Health Organization is likely to raise its flu alert to the top of its six-point scale and declare a pandemic, its director-general indicated in an interview published on Monday.
In remarks setting the scene for another alert increase, but without saying when, WHO chief Margaret Chan warned against over-confidence following a stabilization in the number of new cases of the H1N1 strain that has proved deadly in Mexico.
“Level 6 does not mean, in any way, that we are facing the end of the world. It is important to make this clear because (otherwise) when we announce level 6 it will cause an unnecessary panic,” she told Spanish newspaper El Pais.
- Mexico to begin lifting flu curbs – BBC
- Health officials are wary but hopeful – Washington Post
- Goes person to pig – Could it jump back? – Associated Press
Now that the swine flu virus has passed from a farmworker to pigs, could it jump back to people? The question is important, because crossing species again could make it more deadly.
The never-before-seen virus was created when genes from pig, bird and human viruses mixed together inside a pig. Experts fear the virus that has gone from humans back into pigs in at least one case could mutate further before crossing back into humans again. But no one can predict what will happen.
“Could it gain virulence? Yes,” Juan Lubroth, an animal health expert at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, said Sunday. “It could also become milder. It could go in both directions.”
- Key developments on Swine Flu worldwide – Associated Press
- Travelers told to avoid Mexico – New York Times
International fears of a pandemic rose Monday as the number of people killed by the swine flu in Mexico climbed to 149. At least four other countries have confirmed cases and many others have stepped up testing as well as issuing advisories about traveling to Mexico and the United States.
By the afternoon, the World Health Organization had raised its threat level of a pandemic alert, and markets in Europe and Asia had been unnerved by the concerns.
In raising its threat level to 4 from 3, a decision likely to prompt more travel warnings, the W.H.O. emphasized that “a pandemic is not considered inevitable.” But it acknowledged that containment of swine flu now moot, and mitigation is its main concern. “The situation is fluid and will continue to evolve,” it said in a statement.
- NYC cases hit 28 – New York Post
- Mexico counts 149 dead from flu – Reuters
- First confirmed cases in Britain and Spain – Washington Post
- Swine Flu fears depress markets - Wall Street Journal
- New flu too widespread to be contained – Reuters
“It is clear that this is widespread. And that is why we have let you know that we cannot contain the spread of this virus,” the CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat told reporters on a conference call.
- WHO meets but no action on Swine Flue – Reuters
An emergency meeting of influenza experts discussed the swine flu outbreaks in Mexico and the United States but did not take any decisions, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Saturday.
- Mexico City cancels public events – Reuters
Mexico city’s health secretary, Armando Ahued, said no new flu deaths had been reported since Friday, when Mexico gave the death toll as 20 confirmed and 48 other possible deaths. In all, 1,004 suspected cases have been reported nationwide.
Mexico has shut schools, cinemas and museums and canceled public events in its sprawling, overcrowded capital of 20 million people to try to prevent further infections. Weekend soccer matches were played in empty stadiums and people on the street wore face masks.