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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine Flu - Dr Keiji Fukuda: "Containment not feasible operation"

A deadly swine flu virus first detected in Mexico can no longer be contained, a World Health Organization (WHO) official has said. The WHO flu expert Dr. Keiji Fukuda said, “Containment is not a feasible operation."


“Countries should now focus on mitigating the effects of the virus,” Fukuda added.


The WHO has raised its alert level from three to four, two steps short of declaring a full pandemic. It signalled a "significant step towards pandemic influenza", but Fukuda added "we are not there yet".


The WHO's decision to raise the alert level to four came after an emergency meeting of experts, brought forward by a day because of concerns over the outbreak.

Level four means the virus is showing a sustained ability to pass from human to human, and is able to cause community-level outbreaks.


"What this can really be interpreted as is a significant step towards pandemic influenza. But also, it is a phase that says we are not there yet," Mr Fukuda said.


"In other words, at this time we think we have taken a step in that direction, but a pandemic is not considered inevitable."


He said the virus had become too widespread to make containment a feasible option, and said countries must focus on trying to put measures in place to protect the population.

Meanwhile, the EU health commissioner had already warned UK tourists against travelling to Mexico and other directly affected areas.

But the UK Foreign Office changed its travel advice on Monday after the WHO raised its alert level.

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