Swine Flu Alert Expected to Hit Highest Level

WHO prepares to issue pandemic warning
By Amelia Atlas,  Newser User
Posted May 3, 2009 7:28 AM CDT
Michael Ryan, WHO Director of Global Alert and Response, looks on prior to a press conference about the A H1N1 Flu at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, May 2, 2009.   (AP Photo/KEYSTONE/Martial Trezzini)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – Despite an apparent slowing of the pace of reported cases of swine flu, the World Health Organization is expected to raise its infectious disease alert to the highest level, reports the Los Angeles Times. The current Phase 5 alert level means the disease has spread to at least two countries with increasing outbreaks. But if there is more evidence of person-to-person transmission, WHO will declare a Phase 6 pandemic.

Thus far, there have been only a small number of cases outside of North America, but the increased alert levels are seen as a warning to less industrialized nations that they should be taking precautionary measures. WHO is sending developing countries antiviral drugs from its emergency supply as Italy and Ireland have confirmed cases. "We have to expect that Phase 6 will be reached; we have to hope that it is not," said one official.