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WHO to determine if worst of swine flu pandemic is over

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) will hold an expert meeting later this month to consider whether the swine flu pandemic’s peak has passed, a senior official has said.

WHO’s emergency committee will give its verdict to UN health chief Margaret Chan on whether the global outbreak has entered a “transition period,” the agency’s flu chief Keiji Fukuda said.

“This is a period in which we consider that the pandemic is still continuing, but that the worst of the outbreak is over.” he said.

WHO declared swine flu a pandemic last June, when it announced the virus had reached “phase six” on its alert scale - the agency’s highest designation.

“The post-peak phase is different from phase six, but it indicates that there is ongoing pandemic activity,” Fukuda said later in a telephone interview. “It is a movement toward the post-pandemic period.”

The experts will consider what measures governments should take to continue monitoring and combating the spread of the disease, he said.

“We hope that the worst is over but you can’t suddenly let down your guard,” Fukuda added.

He said the exact date of the meeting had not yet been set.

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