The World Health Organization (WHO) has decided to raise the level of influenza pademica lert from phase 5 to phase 6, the highest level. The level was heightened, according to WHO, based on “available evidence and expert assessments of the evidence, the scientific criteria for an influenza pandemic have been met.”
“The world is now at the start of the 2009 influenza pandemic,” WGO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said in a statement to the press today. “We are in the earliest days of the pandemic. The virus is spreading under a close and careful watch. No previous pandemic has been detected so early or watched so closely, in real-time, right at the very beginning.”
Dr. Chan emphasized that many, but not all, severe cases have occurred in people with underlying chronic conditions. “At the same time, it is important to note that around one third to half of the severe and fatal infections are occurring in previously healthy young and middle-aged people.”
Despite the heightened level, WHO says it continues to recommend no travel restrictions or border closures.