Based on assessment of all available information and following several expert consultations, the World Health Organization has raised the current level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to 5.
"Influenza pandemics must be taken seriously precisely because of their capacity to spread rapidly to every country in the world," said WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan.
"On the positive side, the world is better prepared for an influenza pandemic than at any time in history. Preparedness measures undertaken because of the threat from H5N1 avian influenza were an investment, and we are now benefitting from this investment. For the first time in history, we can track the evolution of a pandemic in real-time."
As of 18:00 GMT, 29 April 2009, nine countries have officially reported 148 cases of swine influenza A/H1N1 infection. The United States Government has reported 91 laboratory confirmed human cases, with one death. Mexico has reported 26 confirmed human cases of infection including seven deaths.
The following countries have reported laboratory confirmed cases with no deaths - Austria (1), Canada (13), Germany (3), Israel (2), New Zealand (3), Spain (4) and the United Kingdom (5).
Further information on the situation will be available on the WHO website on a regular basis at: http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu
WHO advises no restriction of regular travel or closure of borders. It is considered prudent for people who are ill to delay international travel and for people developing symptoms following international travel to seek medical attention, in line with guidance from national authorities.
There is also no risk of infection from this virus from consumption of well-cooked pork and pork products. Individuals are advised to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water on a regular basis and should seek medical attention if they develop any symptoms of influenza-like illness.
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