Pandemic alert level 4

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The World Health Organization has raised the pandemic alert level for swine flu (H151) to four, indicating sustained person-to-person transmission. There have been over 100 cases in Mexico, in most of its provinces, cases in six of the U.S. states, and cases in two widely separated provinces in Canada.

At this point countries will be readying their stocks of antiviral medicines and setting up to isolate the flu strain and produce vaccines in industrial quantities.

According to the CBC,

Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s assistant director general, confirmed the change during a briefing from Geneva following an emergency meeting of the organization.

Countries should focus their efforts on mitigating the effects of the virus — which the WHO has confirmed has spread to Mexico, Canada, the United States and Spain — because containment is impossible, he said.

However, Fukuda added: “A pandemic is not considered inevitable at this time.”

Fukuda said the WHO doesn’t recommend closing borders or restricting travel but is encouraging people who are ill to delay travel.

So far, the virus seems to be more virulent in Mexico. The population is denser there, so there is no selection for a disease to be milder in order to get farther.

I have a cousin in Mexico City. A cousin, a cousin-in-law, and two cousinlets.

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