Ivor O’Connor

April 28, 2009

Why A Level 4 Alert?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ioconnor @ 3:25 pm

Today the threat level was raised to 4. However on their scale it should really be at least a level 5. Here is the scale with the definitions included:

Phase 1: No viruses circulating among animals causing infections in humans
Phase 2: Animal influenza virus causes infection in humans, and is considered potential pandemic threat
Phase 3: Influenza causes sporadic cases in people, but no significant human-to-human transmission
Phase 4: Verified human-to-human transmission able to cause community-level outbreaks. Significant increase in risk of a pandemic
Phase 5: Human-to-human transmission in at least two countries. Strong signal pandemic imminent
Phase 6: Virus spreads to another country in a different region. Global pandemic under way

This can be seen at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8021827.stm. So we see this virus has spread to several countries, not just two. The flu has spread to multiple regions in our country. So what’s with the rating of only a 4?

Should the definitions be changed? Say a number of deaths are required in various countries? Or a percentage of a community must die? Rather grim. However if they can’t follow their own rules maybe they need to change them?

Update 2009.04.29: They read my blog, decided I was correct, and changed the alert level to 5:

GENEVA — The World Health Organization has raised its pandemic alert for swine flu to the second highest level, meaning that it believes a global outbreak of the disease is imminent.

WHO chief Margaret Chan says “it really is all of humanity that is under threat in a pandemic.”

The agency says the phase 5 alert means there is sustained human to human spread in at least two countries. It also signals that efforts to produce a vaccine will be ramped up.

WHO has confirmed human cases of swine flu in Mexico, the United States, Canada, Britain, Israel, New Zealand and Spain. Mexico and the U.S. have reported deaths.

Chan made the decision Wednesday to raise the alert level from phase 4 — signifying transmission in only one country — after reviewing the latest scientific evidence on the outbreak.

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