The World Health Organization has raised its pandemic alert for swine flu to the second highest level, meaning that it believes a global outbreak of the disease is imminent. But in Mexico City, the mayor said the outbreak there seemed to be stabilizing.
WHO says the phase 5 alert means there is sustained human to human spread in at least two countries. It also signals that efforts to produce a vaccine will be ramped up.
“It really is all of humanity that is under threat during a pandemic,” said WHO Director General Margaret Chan. “We do not have all the answers right now but we will get them.”
“Influenza pandemics must be taken seriously precisely because of their capacity to spread rapidly to every country in the world,” Chan told a news conference in Geneva.
“The biggest question is this: how severe will the pandemic be, especially now at the start,” Chan said, but added the world “is better prepared for an influenza pandemic than at any time in history.”
Chan raised the WHO alert level to Phase 5, its second highest warning that a pandemic, or global outbreak of a serious new illness, is imminent.
The new alert a signal to governments and businesses to take action, and to pharmaceutical companies to ramp up antiviral drug production and capacity, she said.