Swine flu: WHO to consult experts on pandemic decision

The World Health Organisation (WHO) will on Thursday consult its emergency committee of flu experts, a body of scientists that could recommend the declaration of a swine flu pandemic, a WHO spokesperson said.

“There is one,” spokesperson Gregory Hartl told Agence France-Presse when asked about the meeting, adding that it would begin at 10am GMT.

The meeting comes a day after WHO chief Margaret Chan held a teleconference with countries worst hit by swine flu to assess if there was “undisputable” evidence of local spread of the virus.

On Wednesday, the number of A(H1N1) infections reported to the WHO by 74 countries reached 27 737, including 141 deaths.

Nations such as Australia, Britain, Chile and Japan, which are reporting growing numbers of infections, are being watched carefully as they are outside the Americas, where swine flu was discovered in April.

So far the WHO has left its six-level pandemic alert scale unchanged at phase five — signalling that a pandemic is “imminent”.

But if it determines that there are sustained local transmissions outside the Americas, it could raise the alert to six — suggesting a full-blown pandemic. — AFP

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