Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Swine flu (H1N1) pandemic is over, says WHO

Dr Margaret Chan, director general of WHO, said on Tuesday that the 2009 H1N1 virus had "largely run its course", 14 months after pandemic status was declared.

She said: "Globally, the levels and patterns of H1N1 transmission now being seen differ significantly from what was observed during the pandemic.

"Out-of-season outbreaks are no longer being reported in either the northern or southern hemisphere."

The virus, which turned out to be far less deadly than originally feared, was now "moving into the post-pandemic period", according to Dr Chan, but this did not mean it had gone away.

"Based on experience with past pandemics, we expect the H1N1 virus to take on the behaviour of a seasonal influenza virus and continue to circulate for some years to come," she said.

The immediate post-pandemic period was "unpredictable", she said, warning: "Continued vigilance is extremely important."

The first flu pandemic to be declared in four decades claimed 457 lives in Britain. At the height of the concern it was feared up to 65,000 could die in the UK.


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