Friday, December 18, 2009

H1N1: WHO uncertain whether the Pandemic is over of just Beginning

Senior World Health Organisation official Keiji Fukuda said Thursday that it was too early to declare the swine flu pandemic over, as it continues at "high levels" in parts of Europe and central Asia.

Although the A(H1N1) flu virus is peaking and even declining in parts of the northern hemisphere, and is hardly present in the south, Fukuda said there was an unproven possibility that there could be another wave later in the winter.

"It really probably remains too early to call the pandemic over," Fukuda said in a weekly telephone news conference.

Fukuda, Special Adviser to the WHO Director-General on Pandemic Influenza, said flu "activity continues at quite high levels in several different countries" notably the Czech Republic, France, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Switzerland.

Fukuda also noted that the signs of a peak and a decline in the caseload in North America and parts of Europe had occurred "extraordinarily early for influenza," with several months of the winter left.

As a result, the WHO could not rule out the possibility of another wave of illness in late winter or early spring.

"We simply are unable to answer this question right now. We continue to assess, right now we cannot predict whether we will see another upsurge in activity in the earlier parts of 2010," Fukuda said.

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