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MADRID/GENEVA (Reuters) – 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.
"Flu viruses are very unpredictable, very deceptive ... We should not be over-confident. One must not give H1N1 the opportunity to mix with other viruses. That is why we are on alert."
The WHO's pandemic phases reflect views about how a virus is spreading, and not how severe its effects are.
Last week the United Nations agency raised the alert level twice, from 3 to the current 5, in response to the sustained transmission of H1N1 in Mexico and the United States.
Before issuing a level 6 alert, the WHO would need to see the virus spreading within communities in Europe or Asia.
A declaration of a full pandemic would send a signal to governments worldwide to institute their pandemic response plans, which may include measures affecting hospitals, schools or public events.
Originally posted by Laurauk
The article flys in the face of what the UN Secretary General has stated, he says the WHO is not raising the level from 5 TO 6 so who do we believe?
Seems none of them knows exactly what they are doing.
Originally posted by Crakeur
I think you're reading it wrong. He isn't saying "we plan on announcing level 6 and, when we do, we don't want panic"
What he's saying is "if we do announce it, no, later or whenever, we don't want to create a total panic"
It's not a matter of him slipping in an admission but, rather, at some point it will happen, not necessarily with this bug but, it is ineveitable that we will reach that level with a bug one day.
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