Swine flu prompts World Health Organization to raise alert level
Posted: April 29th, 2009 - 10:20pm
As the swine flu outbreak continued to spread to countries around the world, the World Health Organization today took the unprecedented step of raising the infectious disease alert level to phase 5, setting the stage for increased efforts to combat the infection.
The virus "must be taken seriously because of its ability to spread to every country in the world," WHO director-general Dr. Margaret Chan said at a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
The raised level means that all countries should immediately activate their pandemic preparedness plans, and remain on high alert for unusual outbreaks, she said.
Phase 5 is considered a situation in which the likelihood of a pandemic "is very high or inevitable," add Dr. Keiji Fukuda, assistant director-general.
The increased level came as the swine flu outbreak in the United States spread to four more states overnight, bringing the total to at least 92 cases. Texas authorities also announced the first U.S. death from the new virus, a 23-month old child who died in a Houston hospital.