Wednesday, April 29, 2009

WHO Raised Swine Flu / H1N1 Alert Level to 5

Given what's been happening, I'm not surprised. WHO, the World Health Organization, raised its alert level for 'swine flu' from 4 to 5 today. That's how it's usually put in the news. WHO calls them "alert phases."

We were at 4, "Evidence of increased human-to-human transmission" - and now it's 5,
"Evidence of significant human-to-human transmission". (More about this in the Lemming's "Swine Flu 2009.)

Spiffy. I'm rather glad I don't have any plans for a world cruise just now.

The WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, had some common-sense advice: " 'Influenza pandemics must be taken seriously precisely because of their capacity to spread rapidly to every country in the world,'.... 'New diseases by definition are poorly understood and influenza viruses are notorious for their rapid mutation and unpredictable behavior.'

" 'The good news is that we are better prepared for an influenza pandemic than anytime in our history,' she said, adding, 'it really is all of humanity that is under threat in a pandemic.' "

We are better prepared than we were: each flu pandemic since the big one in 1918 encouraged people to develop new procedures and technologies for slowing down the spread of the disease, and treating people who got it.

That picture is the display from a thermal scanner, showing heat signatures of passengers arriving an Incheon airport, near Seol, South Korea. I think it's a great way to quickly tell who's running a fever - and probably shouldn't be allowed to enter the country. I'm pretty sure that it's someone's notion of an invasion of privacy: but that's a different topic.

In the news: List of posts relating to Swine flu 2009; and list of background resources:

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