WHO Upgrades Swine Flu To Phase Four Status

The World Health Organization has upgraded the swine flu outbreak to Phase Four. The Phase Four status means that there is sustained human to human transmission of disease.
It has now been determined by WHO that the swine flu has reached the level that human-to-human transmission is sufficient to sustain community-level outbreaks. Phase Four is short of calling the outbreak a pandemic. Phase 4 indicates a significant increase in risk of a pandemic but does not necessarily mean that a pandemic is a forgone conclusion.

The new Phasing calls for the countries that have been affected to contain the outbreak. The core focus at this stage is to stop the mitigation as much as possible.

CTV reports:

Phase 4 normally calls on affected countries to contain the outbreak. But WHO spokesperson Dr. Keiji Fukuda said that “given the current situation,” the the focus should be on mitigation.

“This virus has already spread quite far, so at this time containment is not a feasible option,” he said.

The following countries have confirmed cases of swine flu A:

* United States: 40
* Mexico: 26
* Canada: 6
* Spain: 1
* Scotland: 2

Since the initial outbreak in Mexico 1,995 people have been hospitalized in that country. Of those, 1,070 have recovered and have been released from hospital.

It is not clear why the United States was not aware of the deadly potential just across their own border. Mexico was already enacting protective measures a week prior.

The United States learned about the deaths caused by a rare strain of the flu until after Canadian officials did.

South California was already investigating milder cases of illness that in hindsight were related to the major outbreak in Mexico.

When Mexico realized that they were dealing with a new strain of flu they contacted Canada. A week ago Mexico sent swabs to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg for detailed testing. Why samples were not sent to the CDC is clear, the Mexican authorities were on a time crunch and Canada has a different paperwork system in these cases.

The samples hit the lab in Winnipeg on Wednesday. Six hours later the first news that a new swine flu has been confirmed by testing.

The Washington Post reports:

The CDC, in Atlanta, is one of WHO’s four “reference laboratories” for flu. It routinely gets samples from Mexico and many other countries, and processes them with great urgency, Nancy J. Cox, the head of the flu lab, said last night. It, too, eventually received the Mexican samples.

“The only reason the samples went first to Winnipeg is because the paperwork is easier. We were in a rush,” Hernández said.

Mexico and Canada has had in recent years a close relationship when it comes to preparing for an pandemic.


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