Photo Source: http://www.vaccineinformation.org/photos/flu_afp001a.jpg
In response to cases of swine influenza A(H1N1), reported in Mexico and the United States of America, the Director-General convened a meeting of the Emergency Committee to assess the situation and advise her on appropriate responses.
The establishment of the Committee, which is composed of international experts in a variety of disciplines, is in compliance with the International Health Regulations (2005).
The first meeting of the Emergency Committee was held on Saturday 25 April 2009.
After reviewing available data on the current situation, Committee members identified a number of gaps in knowledge about the clinical features, epidemiology, and virology of reported cases and the appropriate responses.
The Committee advised that answers to several specific questions were needed to facilitate its work.
The Committee nevertheless agreed that the current situation constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.
Based on this advice, the Director-General has determined that the current events constitute a public health emergency of international concern, under the Regulations.
Concerning public health measures, in line with the Regulations the Director-General is recommending, on the advice of the Committee, that all countries intensify surveillance for unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia.
The Committee further agreed that more information is needed before a decision could be made concerning the appropriateness of the current phase 3.
Candobetter Editor's comment: The above quote from the committee about more information being needed means that the Stage 3 alert is current until further information either upgrades or downgrades it.
Current WHO phase of pandemic alert
Current WHO phase of pandemic alert and current phase of alert in the WHO global influenza preparedness plan
Experts at WHO and elsewhere believe that the world is now closer to another influenza pandemic than at any time since 1968, when the last of the previous century's three pandemics occurred. WHO uses a series of six phases of pandemic alert as a system for informing the world of the seriousness of the threat and of the need to launch progressively more intense preparedness activities.
The designation of phases, including decisions on when to move from one phase to another, is made by the Director-General of WHO.
Each phase of alert coincides with a series of recommended activities to be undertaken by WHO, the international community, governments, and industry. Changes from one phase to another are triggered by several factors, which include the epidemiological behaviour of the disease and the characteristics of circulating viruses.
The world is presently in phase 3: a new influenza virus subtype is causing disease in humans, but is not yet spreading efficiently and sustainably among humans.