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Swine 'flu pandemic declared

The World Health Organisation has declared that the influenza pandemic alert has been raised from phase 5 to phase 6 and that swine 'flu is now pandemic. The announcement has, of course, been reported in the general media (BBC).

The spread of the virus can no longer be traced through clearly-defined human to human chains. Further spread, beyond the 30,000 confirmed cases have been reported in 74 countries, is considered inevitable.

The Department of Health have responded quickly confirming that the status change is related to geographic spread and not the severity of the disease. It has also been clarified that the change in status does not trigger any material change to our current response.

Action: Clinicians should be aware of the current pandemic status since the general public are likely to seek reassurance. Treatment algorithms produced by the Health Protection Agency may be updated in light of the status change.