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WHO: Too soon to declare flu pandemic over

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The World Health Organization Chief, Margaret Chan, says the world must remain prudent and observe the evolution of the H1N1 flu pandemic in the coming months.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva on Tuesday, the UN Health Agency director was responding to allegations made by some countries that the H1N1 flu pandemic was over.

"I think it is too premature and too early for us to say we have come to an end of the pandemic influenza worldwide. It would be prudent and appropriate for WHO together with our member states to continue to monitor the evolution of this pandemic for the next six to 12 months".

When a virus reaches a country or city, says Margaret Chan, after some time it causes an explosive outbreak followed by a plateau which might explain why the numbers are high in one country, and low in others.

Pandemic influenza is highly unpredictable, Chan adds, promising to guard against complacency and to watch this virus with eagle's eyes. Over 200 countries have reported confirmed cases of the H1N1 flu pandemic this year. The estimated death toll two weeks ago was a little over 11,000.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations Radio

(duration: 1'18")

Sound bites

Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization

"I think it is too premature and too early for us to say we have come to an end of the pandemic influenza worldwide. It would be prudent and appropriate for WHO together with our member states to continue to monitor the evolution of this pandemic for the next six to 12 months."

Duration: 24 secs

Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization

"We learned over the last 8 months, when a virus reaches a country or city, it takes some time for it to cause an explosive outbreak. And when it causes the outbreak, it will of course rise to be followed by a plateau and then come down. We are seeing a similar pattern in terms of entry, rise, plateau and decline in all countries. And why is it in Switzerland it is on the downward trend and it is in Egypt it is still going strong, maybe it has something to do with the time of entry and the time of start of the outbreak."

Duration: 46 secs

Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization

"The number of deaths reported on WHO website, these are laboratory confirmed H1N1 deaths and most of the time these are underestimates. In many of my member states, it is a fact that they don't have the diagnostic capacity for the surveillance, diagnosis and confirmation. So, there would be some deaths in some countries not reported. So, it is important why I said it would take normally 12 to 24 months after the pandemic for the world collectively work together with WHO to determine on an appropriate method to estimate the excess mortality due to the pandemic."

Duration: 54 secs

Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization

"One thing we need to guard against is the sense of complacency. Pandemic influenza, viruses, they are highly unpredictable. We should not be taken by surprise. So that is why WHO would continue to track the evolution. We will continue to monitor and make the risk assessment. We will watch this virus with eagle's eyes. We are not going to let go."

Duration: 27 secs