H1N1 Still A Pandemic, Says WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) will continue to monitor the H1N1 swine flu pandemic, a spokesman from the group told Reuters on Tuesday.

“There is no EC (emergency committee) this week. We are still monitoring and seeing how the virus behaves in the rest of the southern hemisphere winter,” Gregory Hartl of the WHO spokesman told Reuters reporter Stephanie Nebehay.

“We’re still in phase 6, it is still a pandemic,” added Hartl told Nebehay, referencing the organization’s six-phase scale in which the sixth phase is used to declare a full influenza pandemic.

“Basically our reading after talking to a number of countries in the southern hemisphere is it is too early. So there will be nothing this week.”

Bloomberg News had previously reported that the WHO emergency committee had planned to meet sometime this week–perhaps as early as Tuesday–in order to review statistical information and officially declare an end to the over year-long H1N1 pandemic.

According to WHO statistics, H1N1 has killed more than 18,000 people globally.

In the organization’s most recent weekly update, released on July 16, “Worldwide, overall pandemic influenza activity remains low. The most active areas of pandemic influenza virus transmission currently are in parts of South Asia, West Africa, and Central America”¦ Overall, in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere (North America and Europe), pandemic and seasonal influenza viruses have been detected only sporadically or at very low levels during the past month.”

The WHO declared the H1N1 pandemic on June 11, 2009, after more than 70 countries reported cases of infection, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Furthermore, the CDC noted that swine flu cases had been confirmed in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands by June 19, 2009.

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