Based on assessment of all available information and following several expert consultations, Dr Margaret Chan, WHO's Director-General raised the current level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to 5. She stated that all countries should immediately activate their pandemic preparedness plans. At this stage, effective and essential measures include heightened surveillance, early detection and treatment of cases, and infection control in all health facilities.
Phase 5 is identified with quite a strong choice of words:
Phase 5 is characterized by human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries in one WHO region. While most countries will not be affected at this stage, the declaration of Phase 5 is a strong signal that a pandemic is imminent and that the time to finalize the organization, communication, and implementation of the planned mitigation measures is short.
This virus is hitting close to home, too, as a nearby high school just closed for 1 week in response to the first swine flu diagnosis in the area:
Tuesday, health officials confirmed that a 16-year-old San Jose girl was diagnosed with Santa Clara County's first likely case of swine flu. County health officials did not disclose what school the girl attends.
On its Web site, the Campbell Union High School District is alerting parents and students that a student who was last in school on Thursday tested positive and may have spread the virus. School district officials are asking parents to monitor their children for symptoms of flu, which include fever, cough, sore throat, chills and vomiting and/or diahrrea.