Thursday, June 11, 2009

Red alert for swine flu; it's a pandemic

This is my 200th blog post. Perhaps there could have been a feel-good piece. But then, this is the news people are talking about.

The New York Times calls it a global pandemic in 41 years. Well, WHO’s director general Margaret Chan has confirmed that we are at the earliest stage of a global pandemic as far as swine flu is concerned. WHO has raised the alert level to the maximum, ‘level six’. The virus started in Mexico in April. Today, the NYT report quotes Chan as saying that the pandemic is “moderate” in severity. Chan says that the majority of infections have occurred in people under 25. New cases are being reported from Hong Kong and China. In India, two persons in New Delhi and one in Goa have tested positive, according to NDTV. The Washington Post presents an even more alarming picture. It says that the arrival of the new flu strain is likely to infect up to one-third of the population in the first wave and return in later waves over the next several years. The BBC says that the swine flu virus is spreading in at least two regions of the world with rising cases being seen in the UK, Australia, Japan and Chile. It adds that there have been more than 800 cases in the UK with some areas of Scotland being particularly hard hit. According to an AP report, WHO will now ask drug makers to speed up production of a swine flu vaccine, which it said would available after September. The report adds that in the last pandemic, the Hong Kong flu of 1968, about 1 million people were killed.

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