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WHO declares first 21st century flu pandemic

The World Health Organization declared influenza pandemic on Thursday and called on governments to prepare for a long-term battle against an unstoppable flu virus.

WHO declares first 21st century flu pandemic

The World Health Organization declared influenza pandemic on Thursday and called on governments to prepare for a long-term battle against an unstoppable flu virus.

The United Nations agency raised its pandemic flu alert to phase 6 on a six-point scale, indicating the first influenza pandemic since 1968 is under way.

People aged between 30 and 50 years, pregnant women or people suffering from chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes or obesity are deemed at highest risk contracting this flu.

WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan warned that though the new virus is now in a stable form, it could still mutate into a more deadly form, taking on characteristics of the separate H5N1 bird flu virus circulating widely in poultry.

Acting on the recommendation of flu experts, the WHO reiterated its advice to its 193 member countries not to close borders or impose travel restrictions to halt the movement of people, goods and services, a call echoed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The move to phase 6 reflects the fact that the disease, widely known as swine flu, is spreading geographically, but does not indicate how virulent it is.

Widespread transmission of the virus in Victoria, Australia, signaling that it is entrenched in another region besides North America, was one of the key triggers for moving to phase 6.
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