The UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) has raised the alert over swine influenza to level five – one short of a pandemic.
A phase five alert means human-to-human transmission in at least two countries.
Announcing the latest alert level in Geneva, WHO director general Margaret Chan said: “This change to a higher phase of alert is a signal to governments, to ministries of health and other ministries, to the pharmaceutical industry and the business community that certain actions should now be undertaken with increased urgency, and at an accelerated pace.”
She added: “It really is the whole of humanity that is under threat in a pandemic.”
The move comes after a 23-month-old Mexican child died in Texas on Monday night – the first death from swine flu outside Mexico, where the outbreak originated. Total American cases of infection have surged to nearly 100 now.
In Spain, officials confirmed the first case of swine influenza in a person who has not travelled to Mexico.
World Health Organization (WHO)