Thu, June 11, 2009
Lifestyle > Health > 2009 A/H1N1 Flu outbreak

WHO declares A/H1N1 flu pandemic, raises alert level to highest

2009-06-11 14:01:23 GMT2009-06-11 22:01:23 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

The logo of the World Health Organization is seen at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Thursday, June 11, 2009. The World Health Organization held an emergency swine flu meeting Thursday and was likely to declare the first flu pandemic in 41 years as infections climbed in the United States, Europe, Australia, South America and elsewhere. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

GENEVA, June 11 (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) has made the decision to move its A/H1N1 pandemic alert level to phase six, and will declare soon the widely spreading A/H1N1 influenza had developed into a full pandemic, diplomatic sources said on Thursday.

The decision was made following consultations with world experts through a teleconference, the sources said.

A WHO statement on the decision has been sent to the WHO's members, and the WHO chief is to hold a news conference at its Geneva headquarters to announce the organization's official decision at 1600 GMT Thursday.

The declaration is expected amid concerns that the A/H1N1 flu virus, which originated from Mexico two months ago, has widely spread to Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

The WHO has raised the alert level to five at the end of April, the penultimate level in its six grades, indicating a pandemic was "imminent." And many experts have been expecting the upgrade of the flu due to its fast-spreading nature.

However, experts explained that the highest level by no means indicates the greatest severity of the disease, but simply indicates the geographical spread of this flu.

This is the first global flu epidemic in 41 years. As of Wednesday, 74 countries have officially reported 27,737 A/H1N1 infection cases to the WHO, including 141 deaths.

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